Premium Processing Would Increase to $2,500 Under Proposed House Bill; Expands Premium to Additional Petitions & Applications
UPDATE 8/25/2020: USCIS Postpones Administrative Furlough
In an attempt to address looming USCIS furloughs, a bipartisan group of Congressional lawmakers introduced the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act. The bill passed unanimously over the weekend and heads to the Senate next.
If passed by the Senate, the bill would “temporarily forestall the need for furloughs by immediately increasing the agency’s ‘premium processing’ revenues.” 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.
The bill would increase the 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 House of Representatives bill summary states that 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 would be set through the Department of Homeland Security rulemaking. The bill would 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 would also allow USCIS to set premium fees for new benefit types without rulemaking if the fees do not exceed the below guidelines:
|EB-1 petitions for multinational executives and managers
|EB-2 petitions involving National Interest Waiver (NIW)
|Change of Nonimmigrant Status to F (academic student), J (exchange visitor), or M (vocational student)
|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
|Applications for Employment Authorization
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,
- 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 upgrade your employment-based case for premium processing today. Contact us at email@example.com to get started.
Resuming on Wednesday, September 16 are our weekly immigration webinars! Register for the webinar or email us with any additional questions.
Visit our COVID-19 resource page for the latest updates or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. You can also sign up for our mailing list.