Beginning February 24, 2021, USCIS’s premium processing service is available to employers filing Form I-129 petitions for E-3 nonimmigrant workers. The E-3 nonimmigrant classification is available to Australian nationals coming to work in the U.S. in a specialty occupation for which they possess the necessary credentials.
Premium processing is an optional service that allows some filings to be expedited. The fee is currently $2,500—on top of the fee(s) required for the underlying petition. USCIS will take action within 15 calendar days, but the action could be issuance of a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny, in which case the 15-day timeframe restarts when a response is received by USCIS. Premium processing also opens additional channels of communication with USCIS, including dedicated email addresses and fax numbers.
Premium processing is currently only available for certain classifications of employment-based immigrant (I-140) and nonimmigrant (I-129) petitions. On October 1, 2020, the U.S. Congress passed an appropriations bill to fund the government for the 2021 fiscal year, which included provisions authorizing USCIS to offer premium processing for more types of benefit requests, including change of status, extension of stay, and EAD applications. USCIS must use notice-and-comment rulemaking to publish implementing regulations for these new premium processing services—which may have different fees and different guaranteed processing times—but USCIS has not yet announced any efforts to begin that process.
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