US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows employers to pay a $2,500 “Premium Processing” fee to expedite processing of a non-immigrant employment visa petition (I-129) or immigrant visa petition (I-140). USCIS guarantees that unless an approval or denial notice is issued or additional evidence is requested within 15 calendar days of receipt of the request for Premium Processing, the fee will be refunded.

The regular USCIS processing time for an I-129 petition averages four to six months; processing time for an I-140 petition can be six months or longer. A department may initiate a Premium Processing request when the petition is submitted to USCIS, or at any time after the petition has arrived at USCIS.

Premium Processing does not reduce the amount of time it takes International Scholars Operations (ISO) to prepare and submit the petition to USCIS, or processing times with other agencies such as the Department of Labor or the Department of State.

The $2,500 fee must be a University of Washington check payable to the US Department of Homeland Security. The employing department is responsible for paying the Premium Processing Fee and must not seek reimbursement from the foreign beneficiary. The Premium Processing fee is paid with a check separate from other immigration fees. Send the check to ISO for forwarding to USCIS – do not send the check directly to USCIS.

To determine the allowability of paying the premium processing fee through federal grants, contact Grant and Contract Accounting at Premium processing fees paid through federal grants are generally unallowable.