The Biden Administration has announced that it is prioritizing the need to grapple with visa waiting lists. To that end, it plans stricter internal processing targets, as well as the expansion of premium processing whereby applicants pay extra for a swift adjudication. Waiting times have extended because of Trump-era policies combined with the Covid-pandemic shutdowns.
Premium Processing is an expedited option open to certain visa applicants who pay extra (currently $2,500) to secure a quicker adjudication (within fourteen business days). The planned expansion of premium processing would include anyone applying as a non-immigrant worker under Form I-129 – this includes the O-1 Visa, the H-1B Visa, the L-1 Visa, etc. Although, some of these visa categories covered were already eligible for premium processing.
Premium processing will also now apply to anyone seeking a Green Card through the EB-1 Visa (Extraordinary Ability Visa), EB-2 Visa (Advanced Degree Visa, Extraordinary Ability Visa) and EB-3 (Skilled Worker Visa). The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will make a phased introduction of the new rules and will work to ensure that the expansion of premium processing does not adversely affect the processing times of non-premium-processing applicants.
Internal Visa Processing Improvements
New internal targets are being introduced with the aim of speeding up processing times for all visas. The Administration hopes to utilize improved technology and increased staffing as a way to reduce waiting lists. According to USCIS, the new internal targets should be met by the end of 2023.
The commitment to reduce waiting lists represents a significant shift in tone from the US government and is great news for aspiring immigrants across the board. A more nimble, better staffed USCIS, assisted by better technology, will mean a smoother immigration process for all. Of course, Administrations change and clients are advised to keep up to date on US politics so that they understand how things can change over time.
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