News & Insights

Premium Processing: Congress Increases The Fees And Expands The Immigration Petitions Eligible

On October 1, 2020, Congress passed a new Bill (Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act was included in Division D, Title I of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act) increasing USCIS Premium Processing Fees from $1,440.00 to $2,500.00 for most cases. The good news is that the Bill also expands the immigration petitions eligible for premium processing.

This seems to be the solution to the USCIS’s plan to furlough approximately 70 % of its employees. The intent is also to provide additional funds to USCIS to bolster its operations and improve adjudication times and customer service.

What is Premium Processing?

Premium processing is a USCIS program that currently allows employers and individuals to pay an additional $1,440 application fee to request expedited service (15 calendar days) for a limited list of immigration application types, including H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, E-1, E-2, O-1, P-1, and TN nonimmigrant applications filed using Form I-129, as well as EB-1A, EB-1B, EB-2 (except NIW) and EB-3 I-140 immigrant petitions.

What are the new Premium Processing Fees and How are they implemented?

The premium processing fee for cases that are currently eligible for the service will increase from $1,440 to $2,500, except for H-2B and R (religious worker) petitions, which are set at $1,500.

The Bill requires USCIS to implement the fee for applications added to premium processing eligibility only through regulations, which should include a detailed methodology supporting the proposed premium fee amount. However, in the interest of allowing USCIS to make premium processing quickly available for these immigration petitions, the Bill also allows USCIS to set a fee for the new categories without going through the regulatory process as long as the fee conforms to certain conditions with a “ceiling” amount and maximum processing times as follow:

  • EB-1C petitions for multinational executives and managers and EB-2 petitions for those seeking national interest waivers
    • Fee ceiling of $2,500
    • Processing time must be fewer than 45 days
  • Applications to change nonimmigrant status to F, J, or M (I-539)
    • Fee ceiling of $1,750
    • Processing time must be fewer than 30 days
  • Applications to change or extend status as the dependent of an E, H, L, O, P, or R visa holder (I-539)
    • Fee ceiling of $1,750
    • Processing time must be fewer than 30 days
  • Applications for employment authorization (I-765)
    • Fee ceiling of $1,500
    • Processing time must be fewer than 30 days

In addition, the new Bill limits USCIS authority to suspend premium processing services, except in limited circumstances, and it also requires USCIS to provide petitioners and applicants with “direct and reliable” access to premium case status information and the ability to communicate with premium processing units at USCIS Service Centers.

USCIS is to provide further information before the new fees are implemented. In the meantime, the existing premium program for certain I-129 and I-140 petitions remains available.

Furthermore, The Bill also extended four expiring immigration programs through December 11, 2020, including E-Verify, the EB-5 Regional Center Program, the Conrad 30 Program for foreign medical graduates who will work in areas of the United States that are underserved by physicians, and the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker permanent residence program.

Patel Law Group will continue to follow the implementation process for premium processing closely and we will provide updates as they become available.

For further information regarding the above or any other immigration issues please contact our PLG Partner, Chris Prescott at cprescott@patellegal.com or Attorney Monique Mutombo at mmutombo@patellegal.com

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