New Law Creates New Premium Processing Fees and Adjudication Deadlines
Late in the evening on Wednesday, September 30, the U.S. Congress passed, and the President signed into law a Continuing Resolution to fund the Federal Government through December 11, thereby avoiding a government shutdown.
As part of the Continuing Resolution, Congress passed the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act in order to address the USCIS budget shortfall through implementation of new and increased premium processing fees coupled with an expansion of the case types eligible for premium processing.
New Case Types Eligible for Premium Processing
The new law extends the premium processing service to:
- All employment-based nonimmigrant petitions and associated applications for their dependents.
- All employment-based immigrant petitions filed under the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 category.
- Applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status.
- Applications for employment authorization.
- Any other immigration benefit type USCIS deems appropriate for premium processing.
In addition to adding new benefit types that are eligible for premium processing, the law now mandates that USCIS “ensure that premium processing requestors have direct and reliable access to current case status information as well as the ability to communicate with the premium processing units at each service center or office that provides premium processing services.”
Increased Premium Processing Fees
The premium processing fee will vary by case type. For cases types that have already been eligible for premium processing, the law provides that the new fee shall be $2,500.
The fee for premium processing for other case types must be established by USCIS regulation, with some exceptions. Within the following parameters, USCIS may proceed without new regulation:
- For EB-1C Multinational Manager petitions and EB-2 petitions seeking a National Interest Waiver, a fee not greater than $2,500, with an adjudication timeframe not greater than 45 days.
- For Applications to Change Nonimmigrant Status to F, J, or M, a fee not greater than $1,750, with an adjudication timeframe not greater than 30 days.
- For Applications to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status for those seeking E, H, L, O, P, or R dependent status, a fee not greater than $1,750, with an adjudication timeframe not greater than 30 days.
- For an Application for Employment Authorization, a fee not greater than $1,500, with an adjudication time not greater than 30 days.
Fees for these new categories in the amounts referenced above may be established by USCIS and collected without a new USCIS regulation in the Federal Register. Fee amounts greater than these would require promulgation of a new regulation through the normal rulemaking process.
The effective date of the statute is today, October 1, 2020; however, USCIS has not yet indicated how or when USCIS will implement the law and begin collecting the new and increased premium processing filing fees. It is yet unclear whether premium processing requests filed today with the old premium processing fee will be rejected and returned with a deficiency notice requesting the higher fee amount.
Foster will continue to monitor government action related to the availability and associated fees for premium processing and other immigration services and will make future updates regarding USCIS fee implementation available via our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.