United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently provided some good news on a few different fronts, though the benefits of these items accrue to relatively narrow classes of immigration applicants.  

  • Beginning March 2, USCIS began accepting requests for Premium Processing Service for I140 Immigrant (“green card”) Petitions where: the alien beneficiary has reached, or will reach within 60 days of filing, their sixth year of H-1B stay; and the alien beneficiary requires approval of the I-140 to extend his/her status beyond the normal six-year H-1B limit. For more information, see the agency’s press release.  
  • A policy memo issued by USCIS on March 6 will allow foreign athletes to extend P-1 visa status beyond the 10-year time limit previously in effect. The P-1 category applies to athletes who participate in professional sports leagues and other internationally recognized athletes.  
  • USCIS issued a press release on March 4 stating that the backlog of FBI name checks pending more than six months had been eliminated. This is critical for those persons with pending I-485 Adjustment of Status (“permanent resident” or “green card”) applications as such cases cannot be approved without the completed name check. USCIS and FBI have a goal of processing name checks within 30 days by the end of June 2009.