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Premium Processing Option Announced for F-1 Students’ Work Permits

Posted by Hugo R. Valverde, Managing Attorney, and Anna D. Colby, Attorney Social Media Marketing Manager | Apr 02, 2023 | 0 Comments

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics.

All the top 10 in-demand jobs in the United States are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) jobs, and the U.S. has provided an easier path for international students in those fields to pursue temporary occupations in the United States. 

USCIS recently announced new premium processing for certain F-1 students (international students with study visas) who are seeking OPT (Optional Practical Training), and STEM F-1 students who are seeking OPT extensions, in regards to their I-765 work permit applications.

Additionally, the application for premium processing, Form I-907, is now available in an online format, which is streamlined and also very helpful for tracking your case, as you can get an immediate receipt notice.

What Does Premium Processing Do?

In the context of F-1 students, Premium processing provides expedited processing for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization - a guaranteed adjudicative action within 30 calendar days, or your premium processing fee will be refunded.

It's important to note that if USCIS sends a request for additional evidence (RFE) or a response to a notice of intent to deny (NOID), the 30-day premium processing time period will stop, and won't reset until USCIS receives a response to the request for evidence or notice of intent to deny.

Am I Eligible for Premium Processing?

If you are on an F-1 student visa and have a pending Form I-765 or are about to apply for your I-765 work permit under one of the following employment authorization categories, you are eligible for premium processing:

  • (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT; 
  • (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and 
  • (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students. 

USCIS started accepting Form I-907 premium processing requests on March 6 for the above categories of applicants who already have a pending I-765 work authorization application, and will begin accepting Form I-907 premium processing requests concurrently filed with a Form I-765 on April 3.

Is It Worth it to Use Premium Processing?

While premium processing is a great tool, it is costly - coming in at $1,500 USD.

USCIS is notorious for processing forms at a snail's pace, but currently its website says that 80% of I-765 work permits based on the above OPT categories are being processed within four (4) weeks, which is the same speed as premium processing. 

We encourage you to keep an eye on USCIS's estimated case processing times if you are considering paying for premium processing. 

If you have questions about applying for a USCIS petition, please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

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