The Immigration and Naturalization Service has begun a program to expedite the processing of some categories of nonimmigrant visas, thereby relaxing the pressure on individuals waiting approval prior to commencing employment in the United States. The program initially includes all nonimmigrant visa types EXCEPT H-1B, TN and R visas.
For an additional $1,000 fee, INS has guaranteed to issue an approval, denial, or request for additional evidence within 15 calendar days after the petition is filed. The INS has promised better means of communication with respect to cases in the premium processing system, and there is a mechanism available to convert cases filed prior to June 1, 2001 to the premium processing system.
INS has also indicated that it intends to add H-1B visas to the premium processing program in July or August. These visas are being excluded from the initial program because INS expects that the volume of expedite requests for H-1B visas would be high, and it wants to test the program before taking on the challenge of high volume processing.