Premium processing is now available again for religious worker petitions. After a long hiatus which caused many delays in religious worker processing, the USCIS is once again accepting premium processing (Form I-907) on R-1 petitions for religious workers, ordained ministers, nuns, monks, priests, religious education teachers, cantors, etc.
The premium processing service in which employers or workers will get a response in 15 calendar days is however, only available to religious organizations that have already passed a site visit or Benefit Fraud Assessment (BFA) by the USCIS Office of Fraud Detection and National Security.
The availability of the premium processing service will alleviate the long waiting times and delays caused by the new regulations in procedures for bringing in R-1 workers. Wait times for an I-129R adjudication without premium processing can be months. However, religious organizations which have already attained a positive BFA can utilize the premium processing service and avoid those costly delays. If you or your employer are awaiting a BFA or are awaiting the results of a site visit, you can call Fong & Aquino to see if there is any way to take advantage of the premium processing service or request that the final results of the BFA be issued without further delay. —ecf