The timelines for obtaining different immigration benefits vary. They depend on the benefit being requested, the time of year, caseload at USCIS as well as the responsiveness of the department and the applicant. If the foreign national must obtain a visa, timelines might be skewed further, especially if the applicant is subjected to a background check. Please refer to each individual immigration status overview for an estimate of the timeline associated with each immigration status.
As a rule of thumb, departments should start the relevant request process as soon as possible, i.e. as soon as a decision has been made on the hire or continued employment of a foreign national. In many cases, ISSS can submit an immigration benefit request almost six months prior to the requested start date.
Often the longest period of time in an application process for an immigration benefit is the time USCIS needs to adjudicate a petition. For example, USCIS’s target timeframe for adjudicating E-3 petitions is two months. However, this timeframe is not guaranteed and is often exceeded by significant margins. For current processing times, please refer to the USCIS website. (For E-3 processing times, select "I-129" as the form type and "Vermont Service Center" under Field Office or Service Center.)
For most of the common types of applications it is possible to request Premium Processing. Petitions that are filed under Premium Processing are expedited by USCIS and are considered within 15 days of receipt by USCIS. The governmental filing fee for this service is $2,500 over and above the standard filing fees. This fee must be paid by the employer, unless the request for expedited processing comes from the foreign national and is NOT related to his or her employment (such as traveling outside the US for a wedding). Note that it is possible to upgrade to Premium Processing after a case has been filed with USCIS.
Under the premium processing program, USCIS guarantees that within 15 calendar-days it will issue either an approval notice, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence (RFE), or a notice of investigation for fraud or misrepresentation. In addition to expedited processing, companies that participate in the program may use a dedicated e-mail address to check on the status of their petition or ask any other questions concerning their petition.
Who can apply for Premium Processing and how?
Only the Temple University Office of International Student and Scholar Services can apply for this service. We will complete Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing) and attach the $2500 check. The fee should be paid by a separate check, not to be combined with the regular processing fee.
Extension Petitions (240-day Rule)
An E-3 Employee may continue her/his employment for up to 240 days if USCIS receives the petition prior to the end date listed on the E-3’s I-94. The 240-day period commences on the day following the expiration of the previous USCIS approval. If the petition were to be denied within that 240-day period, the employment authorization would end on that day.
A significant change in job duties or a change in work sites would require either 1) filing a Form I-129 to amend the E-3 employment or 2) exit and a new entry into the US based on the new duties. E-3 status is granted for a specific employer and for a specific occupation. If an E-3 professional changes jobs within an employer, the new E-3 petition would have to be approved by USCIS before the E-3 could begin the new employment.
E-3 status is employer-specific. Unless another employer has submitted an E-3 petition to USCIS on your behalf or you have departed the US and reentered documenting both Temple University and the new employer, you may not engage in any type of additional employment.