Premium Processing for H-4 Applications, EADs, and More may be Available Soon

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering a rule, which could be published as soon as next month – September 2021 – that would establish new benefit requests eligible for premium processing, consistent with the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA). Assuming the regulation is implemented, it could finally make premium processing available for numerous additional case types, including applications to extend / change nonimmigrant status (form I-539) and applications for employment authorization (form I-765).

Premium Processing Provision Applicable to Certain Case Types

Although the primary purpose of the CAA was to authorize funding for the federal government, it also included many unrelated provisions. The CAA directed the DHS to make premium processing available for the following categories:

  • All employment-based nonimmigrant petitions
  • All I-140 petitions, including for the EB1(c) category and for EB2 national interest waivers (NIWs), both of which have historically not had access to premium processing
  • Form I-539 applications, which is used to apply for a change or extension of status for most dependents (e.g., H-4, L-2), along with F-1 students, B-1/B-2 visitors, etc
  • Form I-765, which is used to apply for employment authorization documents (EADs)

Premium Processing Fee Amounts and Processing Times for Different Case Types

The CAA requires the DHS to keep the following guidelines regarding premium processing fees and processing times:

  • The premium processing fee for I-140 petitions filed for EB1(c) and EB2 NIW cases will be no higher than $2,500, and the processing timeframe will not exceed 45 days.
  • The premium processing fee for all I-765 applications and most I-539 applications will be no higher than $1,750, and the processing timeframe will not exceed 30 days.
  • The statute does not specifically apply this limit to certain types of I-539 applications, such as those for B-1/B-2 applicants. However, the assumption is that, in the regulation, the USCIS will set the same fee and timeframe for all I-539 applications.


The regulatory agenda indicates that this rule is slated for release in September 2021. However, this date is subject to change. Further, after the USCIS issues the regulation, it is unclear how long it will take before the changes go into effect. MurthyDotCom will post more details, as the information becomes available. Subscribe to the MurthyBulletin to receive weekly updates on this and other issues related to U.S. immigration law from the Murthy Law Firm.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.