Is it worth paying the $2,500 premium processing fee for an EB-2 NIW visa?
Up until November of last year, the answer would have been a loud YES.
But due to the recent retrogression of the Visa Bulletin, paying $2,500 for premium processing may not get you your green card or immigrant visa any faster.
Let us explain:
The Visa Bulletin is what determines if a particular visa type, even with an approved petition, may be issued. If a particular category has too many visas issued (i.e. it is “oversubscribed”), someone with an approved petition must continue to wait until their place in line becomes current. Your “place in line” (also known as your “priority date”) for EB-2 NIW is the date you file, not the date you are approved.
The Visa Bulletin determines if a particular visa type, even with an approved petition, may be issued. If a particular category has too many visas issued (i.e., it is “oversubscribed”). someone with an approved petition must continue to wait until their place in line becomes current. Your “place in line” (also known as your “priority date”) is the date you file, not the date you are approved.
But since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2023, the Visa Bulletin date for EB-2 NIW visa is no longer current due to its increasing popularity. As there are more and more people seeking an EB-2 NIW visa, this imposes the need for the Visa Bulletin to control the demand and impose longer waiting times.
Even with the quicker approval of the eligibility stage (Form I-140), which can be accelerated with premium processing, no visa can be issued until the person’s priority date becomes current.
What this means in practice is: you will not have your green card in hand faster if you pay the premium processing fee if you file your application today, although you will know if you are eligible much faster. This makes paying the fee much less appealing, especially if you are on a tight budget.
Based on the current Visa Bulletin, only EB-2 NIW petitions with a priority date of February 2022 or earlier will be able to have their visas issued. So anyone who petitioned after that date will have to wait until the Visa Bulletin becomes “current” again.
At the same time, in the coming months, in case demand for EB-2 NIW keeps increasing in a faster rate than the US ability to issue the document, there’s a chance of a further retrogression, placing the cut-off date before February 2022.
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Alberto Lugo Royo is a senior immigration attorney at AG Immigration.
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