Connecticut, US

Oct 16 2020

USCIS to Increase Premium Processing Fees Starting October 19; Program Expansions Still Pending

United States

At a glance

  • The cost to premium process petitions filed on Forms I-140 and I-129 will increase to $2,500 from $1,440, beginning Monday, October 19, as required by a stopgap spending measure signed into law on September 30, 2020.
  • The increase will only apply to cases currently eligible for premium processing, including H and L petitions and certain EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 petitions.
  • Though the stopgap measure also expanded the premium processing program to other case types and benefits requests, USCIS has not disclosed when it plans to implement the expansion. 

The Issue

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase the premium processing fee for H-1B, L-1  and certain immigrant visa petitions to $2,500, from $1,440, on Monday, October 19, 2020, according to an announcement issued today. Petitions postmarked on or after that date must include the new fee. 

The premium processing fee for H-2B and R-1 petitions will increase to $1,500 on the same day.

The fee increase was part of a stopgap spending measure signed into law on September 30, 2020. The  legislation also significantly expanded the premium processing program to include many other employment-based immigrant applications and petitions, though USCIS has not yet announced when it will  implement that expansion. 

Future Expansion of USCIS Premium Processing Program

The stopgap legislation requires USCIS to expand the premium processing program to include applications for employment authorization and applications to change or extend status for the dependents of H-1B, L-1 and other principal nonimmigrant categories. The law also gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to designate other case types for premium service. DHS has provided no indication of when this expansion will take place. Until further notice, premium processing will remain limited to certain I-129 nonimmigrant worker petitions, including H, L, O, P and R petitions, and certain Form I-140 immigrant worker petitions. 

Once the expanded program is implemented, the increased premium processing fee of $2,500 will attach to some of the new case types, though lower fees will be required for certain less work-intensive case types. When the program is expanded, premium processing fees and timelines will be as follows:

Case Type Processing Timeline Premium Processing Fee
Most Form I-140 EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 petitions 15 calendar days (current)  $2,500
Form I-140 EB-1 Multinational Manager

Form I-140 EB-2 National Interest Waiver

Form I-140 EB-2 Physician
45 days Not greater than $2,500
Form I-129 Nonimmigrant Worker Petitions 15 calendar days (current)  $2,500
Form I-1530 Change/Extension of Status to F, J or M 30 days Not greater than $1,750
Form I-539 Change/Extension of Status for E, H, L, O, P and R Dependents 30 days Not greater than $1,750
Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization 30 days Not greater than $1,750

Once the law is implemented, DHS will continue to have the authority to suspend premium processing services, though this authority will be limited to instances where DHS cannot complete a “significant number” of premium requests within the required time period. The law also requires DHS to provide petitioners and applicants with “direct and reliable” access to premium case status information and the ability to communicate with premium processing units at USCIS Service Centers.

What this means

Case types already accepted under the premium processing program must include the higher processing fee of $2,500 if postmarked on or after October 19. DHS has not indicated when it will implement the other elements of the expanded program. Once the premium processing expansion is in effect, it is expected to generate significant new revenue for the agency, which over the summer threatened to furlough 70 percent of its workforce to close a budget shortfall. 

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.