Appropriations Act Allows USCIS to Expand Premium Processing Service
On September 30, 2020 the President signed the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, to fund the U.S. government through December 11, 2020. The Act also addresses USCIS revenue shortfalls and the need to meet operational expenses. It includes measures to expand the scope of premium processing service and increase premium processing fees. These measures will not take effect until USCIS takes affirmative steps to implement the changes.
What to Expect
The Act specifically authorizes USCIS to make premium processing service available for the following petitions/applications:
- Employment-based nonimmigrant petitions and associated applications for dependents;
- Form I-140 petitions for immigrant visa classification;
- Form I-539 applications to change/extend nonimmigrant status;
- Form I-765 applications for employment authorization documents; and,
- Any other immigration benefit type deemed appropriate by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The premium processing fee for benefits already eligible for premium processing service will increase from $1,440 to $2,500. This includes
- Form I-129 nonimmigrant petitions filed for TN, H-1B and L-1 classification;
- Form I-140 immigrant visa petitions filed for persons of extraordinary ability and outstanding professors and researchers (EB-1), advanced-degree professionals (EB-2), professional and skilled workers (EB-3).
New Categories and Fees
USICS will be required to follow the rulemaking process and publish regulations to set fees for the expanded premium processing services, but it must be consistent with the following:
- Form I-140 immigrant petitions filed for Multinational Managers and Executives (EB-1) and National Interest Wavier (NIW) EB-2. For these petitions, the fee may not exceed $2,500 and processing time may not exceed 45 days.
- Change of status requests for F, J and M status. The fee may not exceed $1,750 and processing times may not exceed 30 days.
- Change of status requests for dependents seeking E, H, L, O, P and R status. The fee may not exceed $1,750 and processing times may not exceed 30 days.
- Form I-765 for an employment authorization document. The fee may not exceed $1,750 and processing times may not exceed 30 days.
The premium processing time clock will not begin until DHS receives all prerequisites for adjudication of the benefit sought.
Also of Note
The Act requires USCIS to present Congress with a five year plan within 180 days on the following:
- Electronic filing procedures for all applications and petitions;
- Acceptance of electronic filing at all locations; and,
- Issuance of all correspondence and notices electronically.
USCIS must also ensure that providing expanded premium processing services does not result in an increase in processing times for other benefit applications.
Gibney will continue monitor the expected changes to premium processing services and fees, and will provide updates as they become available. For additional information, please contact your designated Gibney representative or email firstname.lastname@example.org.