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Key Points
  • Congress passed a continuing appropriations bill that impacts USCIS premium processing
  • Existing premium processing fees will increase from $1,400 to $2,500 for most categories
  • Premium processing will extend to more types, including EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3, and EADs
  • The adjudication timeframe will remain unchanged at 15 days
  • USCIS has until December 11, 2020, to implement these changes
Recently, Congress passed a continuing appropriations bill that will change US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) premium processing fees. By December 2020, the law requires USCIS to increase premium processing fees for existing categories and expand premium processing to additional categories.
The legislation was enacted to compensate for a budget shortfall that USCIS announced in May 2020. The agency attributed the budget shortfall to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. Along with reducing its expenses, USCIS requested emergency funding from Congress to maintain its operations and avoid a staff furlough before the end of FY 2020 on September 30, 2020. In response to the agency’s request, Congress has implemented specific provisions intended to increase revenue for USCIS.
What are the Changes?
The emergency bill will increase premium processing fees from $1,400 to $2,500 for most categories that are already eligible for premium processing except for R-1 and H-2B petitions, which will have a premium processing fee of $1,500. Despite the increase in premium processing fees, the adjudication timeframe will remain the same at 15 days.
The legislation also requires USCIS to extend premium processing to other categories, including nonimmigrant work visa petitions and their associated dependent applications; EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 immigrant petitions; employment authorization document applications, and applications modify or extend nonimmigrant status. USCIS can extend premium processing to other categories not listed in the legislation through the regulatory process.
Additional Provisions
Within 180 days of September 30, 2020, which is when the appropriations law became effective, the Secretary of Homeland Security must report to Congress with a five-year plan that addresses electronic filing for all application types, electronic issuance of requests and decision, electronic payments at all locations, and improved processing times.
What is the Impact on Applicants and Employers?
Even though the legislation is immediately effective, USCIS has yet to provide additional guidance concerning premium processing fee increases. Additionally, USCIS must still decide which benefit categories to extend premium processing to.
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