Premium Processing Expanded but Timeline for Implementation is Unknown
October 5, 2020
The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, signed by President Trump on September 30, funds the government through December 11, 2020. This short term spending measure includes language from a bill previously introduced by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and others to address the USCIS’ budget shortfall by expanding the availability of Premium Processing and increasing its fees.
Although the law went into effect immediately, the Premium Processing provisions will not take effect until the USCIS is able to implement them. The timing of implementation is currently unknown, but we anticipate the USCIS will issue a public announcement shortly.
Once implemented, the bill will:
- Increase the fee for Premium Processing from $1,440 to $2,500 for most types of cases already eligible for Premium Processing
- Expand Premium Processing to
- All employment-based nonimmigrant petitions (Form I-129) and associated applications for dependents;
- Form I-140 petitions;
- Form I-539; and
- Form I-765
The law will require rulemaking to set fees for expanded premium processing services, but it must be consistent with the following:
- EB-1 petitions for Multinational Managers and Executives or EB-2 NIW petitions – fee is no greater than $2,500 and processing time is no greater than 45 days.
- Change of status requests for F, J and M - fee is no greater than $1,750 and processing time is no greater than 30 days.
- Change of status requests for dependents seeking E, H, L, O, P and R – fee is no greater than $1,750 and processing time is no greater than 30 days.
- Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) – fee is no greater than $1,750 and processing time is no greater than 30 days.
Other noteworthy provisions:
- The processing time clock does not begin until “all prerequisites for adjudication are received” by DHS.
- Providing expanded premium processing services must not result in an increase in processing times for other benefit applications.
- A biennial adjustment of premium processing fees based on the Consumer Price Index without rulemaking is permitted.
- The stop-gap measure extends E-Verify through December 11, 2020.
- USCIS must hold a semi-annual congressional briefing and provide a five-year plan within 180 days on establishing:
- Electronic filing procedures for all applications and petitions;
- Acceptance of electronic filing at all locations; and
- Issuance of all correspondence and notices electronically.