Premium Processing Increases for Forms I-129 and I-140
On October 1, a continuing resolution was passed to fund the federal government through December, allowing Premium Processing fees to increase to better fund USCIS. The Act included the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act, which according to the press release, “requires USCIS to establish and collect additional premium processing fees, and to use those additional funds for expanded purposes.” The press release also stated:
Any Form I-907 postmarked on or after Oct. 19 must include the new fee amount. If USCIS receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after Oct. 19 with the incorrect filing fee, we will reject the Form I-907 and return the filing fee. For filings sent by commercial courier (such as UPS, FedEx and DHL), the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.
Pub. L. No. 116-159 also gives USCIS the ability to expand premium processing to additional forms and benefit requests, but USCIS is not yet taking that action. Any expansion of premium processing to other forms will be implemented as provided in the legislation.
Premium processing allows certain individuals and companies to pay an optional fee for expedited processing for select petitions and applications. The fee is currently set at $1,440 and guarantees action within 15 days or the fee is returned and the case continues to be processed expeditiously. Premium Processing is available only to Form I-129 and certain Form I-140s at this time.
The bill allows USCIS to increase the Premium Processing fee from $1,440 to $2,500 for most case types and would also expand premium processing to new petitions and applications. The revenues may be used by USCIS to improve adjudication and naturalization services and reduce backlogs, including delays for non-premium applicants. Previously, collected fees were only to be used to fund premium processing operations and infrastructure improvements. The bill states premium processing must be made available to the following additional immigration benefits:
- employment-based nonimmigrant petitions not already subject to premium processing;
- certain employment-based green card petitions (EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3) not already subject to premium processing;
- applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status;
- applications for employment authorization; and
- other immigration benefit requests as USCIS deems appropriate.
The new fees and timeframes will be set through the Department of Homeland Security rulemaking. The bill will also allow biennial adjustments of premium fees to account for inflation.
The bill also confirms that premium processing requestors have direct and reliable access to their current case status information and the ability to communicate with the premium processing service units. USCIS may only suspend premium processing if circumstances prevent the completion of a “significant number” of premium requests within the required 15-day timeframe.
The bill also allows USCIS to set premium fees for new benefit types without rulemaking if the fees do not exceed the below guidelines:
|Benefit Type||Fees||Processing Times|
|EB-1 petitions for multinational executives and managers||$2,500||45 days|
|EB-2 petitions involving National Interest Waiver (NIW)||$2,500||45 days|
|Change of Nonimmigrant Status to F (academic student), J (exchange visitor), or M (vocational student)||$1,750||30 days|
|Applications to Change or Extend Status as a dependent of an E (treaty trader or investor); H (temporary worker), L (intracompany transferee), O (extraordinary ability), P (artist or athlete), or R (religious worker||$1,750||30 days|
|Applications for Employment Authorization||$1,500||30 days|
The bill also requires USCIS to develop a 5-year plan to implement:
- electronic filing procedures for all benefit requests,
- accept electronic payments,
- correspond with benefit requestors electronically (including decisions, requests for evidence, and notices of intent to deny)
- reduce processing timeframes for all immigration and naturalization benefit requests.
The agency will be required to conduct semi-annual briefings to the appropriate congressional committees.
Since this bill is intended to be an emergency stopgap to stabilize the USCIS budget, there may be an accelerated implementation timeline. Save $1,040 and check to see if your employment-based case is eligible for a premium processing upgrade. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
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Pub. L. No. 116-159 increases the fee for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, from $1,440 to $2,500, for all filings except those from petitioners filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting H-2B or R-1 nonimmigrant status. The premium processing fee for petitioners filing Form I-129 requesting H-2B or R-1 nonimmigrant status is increasing from $1,440 to $1,500.