Congress Greatly Expands Premium Processing For Immigration Applications
The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021, and Other Extensions Act gives the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) access to premium processing funds to pay for operational expenses. The Act authorizes premium processing services to employment-based nonimmigrant petitions and associated applications for dependents, such as Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140), Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539), and Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765). These premium processing services can also be expanded to other applications at the discretion of the USCIS.
H.R. 8337 also increases the premium processing fees for benefit requests that are already eligible for premium processing services from $1,440 to $2,500, except for the Program for temporary non-agricultural workers (H-2B) and Nonimmigrant religious worker (R-1) petitions. This USCIS implemented this increase on October 19, 2020.
The new fees for the expanded premium processing services do, however, have guidelines that must be followed:
- Employment-based immigration-second preference National Interest Waiver petitions and EB-1 petitions for Multinational Managers and Executives cannot have a fee greater than $2,500 and cannot have a guaranteed processing time greater than 45 days.
- Change of status requests for F-1 Academic Students, J-1 Exchange Visitors, and M-1 Vocational Students cannot have a fee greater than $1,750 and cannot have a processing time greater than 30 days.
- Change of status requests for dependents seeking E-1 Treaty Traders and their employees, E-2 Treaty Investors and their employees, H-4 spouses and unmarried minor children, under the age of 21, of a green card holder, L-1A and L-1B Temporary Workers, O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or nationally or internationally recognized achievement in the motion picture or television industry, P-1A Internationally Recognized Athletes, P-1B Members of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups, P-2 Performers or Performing Groups under a Reciprocal Exchange Program, P-3 Artists or Entertainers Part of Culturally Unique Programs, and R-1 Temporary Religious Workers cannot have a fee greater than $1,750 and cannot have a processing time greater than 30 days.
- Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) cannot have a fee greater than $1,750 and cannot have a processing time greater than 30 days.
The new law also ensures that the processing time clock does not begin until the USCIS received all required evidence from the applicants.