The temporary spending bill keeping the government open until December 11 was signed by the president on October 1, 2020. The law includes two significant changes to USCIS premium processing: a fee increase and the expansion of premium processing to other benefit categories.

Fee Increase

For petition categories already authorized for premium processing, fees will increase from $1,440 to $2,500. (For two categories, the H-2B and R-1 visas, the fee increases to $1,500.) The increase will most likely take effect as soon as USCIS updates the filing fee information on its website.

Expansion of Premium Processing

The statute allows for expansion of premium processing to other benefit categories, most notably for I-539 applications by employees' accompanying family members, I-765 applications for employment authorization and for EB-1-3 transferring manager immigrant petitions. USCIS is required to issue regulations to introduce the expansion in most cases, which will most likely take months. For certain categories, the statute allows USCIS to bypass the regulatory process so long as it stays within certain parameters set by the statute (maximum premium processing fees ranging between $1,750 and $2,500 and processing times between 30 and 45 days, depending on the category).

Timeline for Changes

There is no exact date for when USCIS will change its website to implement the higher fee for existing petition categories, but it is expected to be soon. The expansion of premium processing to new categories will most likely take longer. Duane Morris will continue to monitor developments and issue additional Alerts on this topic.

Premium Processing Turnaround

As you may know, a federal court earlier this week enjoined USCIS from implementing the regulation that introduced planned fee changes that were supposed to take effect October 2. The proposed changes included updated forms for many categories and a change in premium processing from 15 calendar days to 15 business days. The temporary spending bill just signed into law does not address this regulation or the federal court injunction at all. For now, premium processing times remain at 15 calendar days.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Ted J. Chiappari, Lisa Spiegel, any of the attorneys in our Immigration Law Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.