USCIS is here with a new update on the premium processing fee. There is an increase in the fee for all filings currently eligible for premium processing service effective from October 19,2020.
This fee increase is a measure as required by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, Pub. L. No. 116-159, signed into law on October 1, 2020. The Act included the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act, which requires USCIS to establish and collect additional premium processing fees, and to use those additional funds for expanded purposes.
So, any premium processing requests postmarked on or after Monday, October 19 must include the new fee.
If a Form I-907 postmarked on or after October 19, 2020, includes an incorrect filing fee, USCIS will reject the form and returns the fee. For filings sent by commercial courier, the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.
As per the Pub. L. No. 116-159, USCIS has the ability to expand premium processing to additional forms and benefit requests. But, USCIS is not yet taking that action. That includes 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 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 be limited to certain I-129 nonimmigrant worker petitions,( H, L, O, P, R) and certain Form I-140 immigrant worker petitions.
Once the expanded program is implemented, premium processing fee of $2,500 will attach to some of the new case types.
Requesting a premium processing of their petitions has been a norm for most of the employers, especially for visa types such as H-1Bs. Premium processing allows petitioners to pursue their immigration benefits on a faster track in exchange for an additional fee. Upon receipt of a premium processing request, USCIS will have to process the petition or application within 15 calendar days.
Employers started opting for the premium processing service as USCIS could take several months to process the regular petitions causing delays to worker availability. But, the recent increase in processing charges has made employers think twice before requesting premium processing.
With the new implementation, employers need to shell out an additional thousand dollars on each of the premium processing requests. The new processing fee is being questioned by many employers in the view of existing crisis and the demand for high skilled workers.
Though the fee hike is justified as a needed measure to ensure the funding for USCIS, it surely would be a hard strike for employers hiring non-immigrants. This would mainly hinder employers from small and mid-size firms from seeking this availability especially when employers are looking for cutting down costs due to the national emergency. But, not opting for premium processing would result in employees losing their work authorizations due to lengthy USCIS adjudication times.
What do you think about this new implementation? Do let us know.