A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Friday, October 2, 2020

Premium Processing Services Expanded to EB1C, NIW, I-539, EAD, ETC.

On September 30, 2020, a new law "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act" (H.R. 8337), was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President to allow continuing funding for the federal government.  Embedded in this new legislation is also the "Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act," (H.R. 8089) which authorized USCIS to expand Premium Processing Services to additional applications and charge higher fees. 

The current Premium Processing Program is limited to certain immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions. By charging an additional fee of $1440, USCIS promises to make a decision on an application within 15 days.


Expanded Categories

The new law will expand Premium Processing Services to EB-1C Multinational Executives / Managers and EB-2 National Visa Waiver  immigrant visa petitions.  Other employment-based immigrant visa petitions (I-140) in the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 categories will continue to be eligible for Premium Processing Services.

Significantly, the Act expanded Premium Processing Services to Form I-539, application to change and extend nonimmigrant status as well as Form I-765, application for employment authorization documents (EAD) - two extremely popular and important applications. 

Varying Premium Fees and Adjudication Schedules

The filing fee for Premium Processing Service will also be adjusted, depending on the type of the underlying application.  USCIS will also have longer time periods to decide on cases under premium processing.

For immigration petitions and applications previously types eligible for premium processing on or before August 1, 2020, the fee will be increased from $1440 to $2,500, except for the H-2B or R categories, which will have a $1,500 fee. 

Premium fees will be decided by USCIS in rule-making processes, subject to the following guidelines:

For employment-based immigration petitions (I-140), the fee will not be higher than $2500 and the processing time will be no longer than 45 days.

For application to change or extend status to F, J and M, the fee will not be higher than $1750 and the processing time will be no longer than 30 days. 

For other nonimmigrant applications including H-1B, L-1, E-2, O-1, R-1, etc., the fee will not be higher than $1750 and the processing time will be no longer than 30 days. 

For I-765 applications for employment authorization,  the premium fee will be no more than $1500 and the processing time will be no longer than 30 days. 

Other benefit applications may be also included in the Premium Processing Program.

USCIS may adjust fees every two years based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.

The premium processing clock does not start until "all prerequisites for adjudication are received" by USCIS.  It is unclear if biometrics information is considered a prerequisite for adjudication.  

There is no effective date set for the new premium processing services yet. 

The new law is a win-win situation.  On the one hand, it provides the much needed relief to the current USCIS funding problems. On the other hand, it allows foreign nationals and immigrants to be able to bypass the delay of the normal adjudication schedules.  

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