Another Easy Immigration Fix for the Administration

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

What’s another easy fix that the Obama Administration can make happen today?  The USCIS could resume Premium Processing Service for I-140 National Interest Waiver petitions in accordance with 8 CFR 103.2(f)(2).  The Texas Service Center (TSC) processing time indicates that they are processing cases with a receipt date of September 28, 2010.  This does not necessarily mean a ten month wait either.  Last month, the TSC reported a receipt date of September 14, 2010 (only advancing by 14 days).   At that rate, a petitioner filing today may be waiting almost two years for adjudication of their petition.  It seems like the U.S. is shooting itself in the foot by not offering the Premium Processing Service to those who would qualify for the National Interest Waiver.     

In June 2009, USCIS announced the resumption of Premium Processing Service for certain I-140 petitions, specifically excluding Petitions for National Interest Waiver and Multi-National Executives and Managers.  Today, two years later, USCIS still lists these categories as, “not yet available” for Premium Processing Service. 

Seems like a no-brainer that U.S. Policy should ensure proper resources toward the adjudication of Petitions for National interest Waiver; particularly as they tout job creation initiatives, innovation and entrepreneurship through immigration.  My friend Vivek Wadhwa, a Washington Post writer and entrepreneur himself, believes that USCIS is taking steps in the right direction, as do I, but I question their implementation of anything meaningful as of yet in that regard.  This is just one such example where, through a simple fix, the administration can encourage the immigration and contributions of the best and brightest by providing them the option of faster processing of their application.  For entrepreneurs and other Sergey Brin’s who will boost our economy by creating jobs and our increase our nation’s ability to innovate as Google has done, do we want to tell them that they will have to wait several years in line while others can take advantage of Premium Processing Services?  Indeed, by definition, as USCIS explains, national interest waivers are granted to those who have exceptional ability; whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the nation because of the foreign national’s unique abilities in the sciences, arts, professions, or business.  We need real pragmatic solutions to encourage and stimulate the economy, not just PR and talk. 

USCIS, through its regulations at 8 CFR 103.2(f)(2), has the ability to offer Premium Processing Services for certain petitions to meet the needs of its “customers.”  When the Premium Processing Service is made applicable to a particular type of petition, USCIS guarantees petitioners that, for a $1,225 processing fee, it will issue either an approval notice, or where appropriate, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence or open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation, within 15 calendar days of receipt. If the petition is not processed within 15 calendar days, USCIS will refund the $1,225 fee and continue to process the request as part of the Premium Processing Service. In addition to faster processing, petitioners who participate in the program may use a dedicated phone number and e-mail address to check on the status of their petition or ask any other questions they may have concerning their petition.

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