USCIS Premium Processing Fee Changes Congress

New Rule – USCIS Premium Processing for H4, L2, EAD. Fee $2500

In US Immigration - Visas by KumarUpdated : 31 Comments

Today Senate passed & president signed a big stopgap spending bill to stop shutdown of the US government agencies. As part of that Govt. spending bill, changes to USCIS Premium Processing fee & categories were included. The changes include new options for H1B, L1 dependents like H4, L2 and also EAD. Also, the premium processing fee is going to increase. We will cover all of those aspects in this article and give references to the bill for your review.

Background – HR 8337 Bill with Premium Processing Changes

HR 8337 is a big stopgap bill that is aimed at funding federal agencies and prevent them from shutdown until December 11th, 2020. Today US Senate passed the bill H.R. 8337, that was already passed in House few days ago.  As per process of Bill becoming a Law in US, it has to pass both House and Senate, later to be signed by President to become law. The bill HR 8337 was signed by president late in the night after he arrived at Whitehouse. It is now a law as it is signed by President.

HR 8337 Bill has a section called “Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act” with many provisions related to USCIS Premium processing. It has provisions for adding premium processing for H, L visa holders dependents. Also, for general Change of Status and other applications, including EAD.  It also raises the current premium processing fee for H1B and other categories that use the same. There are also limits set on the premium processing in this bill.  See below screenshot.

HR 8337 Bill with USCIS Stabilization Act Index
HR 8337 Bill with USCIS Stabilization Act

Now, let’s look at each of the provisions related to USCIS in the bill.

 Premium Processing for H4, L2 Visa, EAD, COS, Extensions

 As per the passed bill, the INA section 286(u) will be modified to include USCIS premium processing for a variety of categories as listed below

H4 and L2 Visa Holders : Premium Processing for dependents of H1B, L1 and other employment based non-immigrant petitions.  Which means, H4 Visa & L2 Visa holders will be able to file I-539 Applications now for COS or Extensions under premium processing, once the law goes into effect.  

EAD Applications: Premium Processing will also be introduced to the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Applications. This is going to help many, who apply for H4 EAD and end up losing jobs, as H4 EAD was not adjudicated on time due to H4 or H4 EAD processing delays.

Change of Status(COS), Extensions: Premium processing will also be available for general applications that are filed for Change of Status(COS) and Extension of Non-immigrant status. This covers a broad range of visa types that use form I-539 form that typically includes F1, H4, L2, B1/B2, F2, etc.

Employment Based Green Card Applications: Also, they are adding premium processing for EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 Categories as a whole. Premium processing exists today for I-140 form today, but this will technically enable premium processing for EB1-C multinational manager and executives and National Interest Waiver (NIW) categories.  

Below is the screenshot of the Bill for your reference indicating the above changes.

USCIS Premium Processing for H4 - L2 and EADs Congress Bill Text
USCIS Premium Processing for H4 – L2 and EADs Congress Bill Text

You can watch the below YouTube Video too, it covers all the aspects.

Premium Processing Fee increased to $2500 for H1B, L1, I-140, Others

The premium processing fee for current eligible categories such as H1B, L1, I-140 and other categories will be increased to $2,500 USD.  The current premium processing fee is $1440 USD. The fee is going up by over $1,000. This fee increase applies to all categories that have premium processing before August 1, 2020. The only exception for this fee increase is H2B and R-1 category, they will have fee of $1,500 USD.

USCIS Premium Processing Fee 2500 - Regulation Info
USCIS Premium Processing Fee 2500 – Regulation Info

Regulation to decide Premium Processing fee H4, L2, COS, EAD, Others

Congress has not set the premium processing fee for H4, L2, EAD, Extensions and COS applications. They say that USCIS will need to come up with a regulation on the fee structure and methodology used to set the premium processing fee. See above screenshot on this. For now, they have set some limits so that USCIS does not really increase them a lot, it is covered below.

Premium Processing Fee Limits, Processing time Frames – H4, L2, EAD

Congress is setting maximum premium processing fee limits to USCIS in this bill as listed below.

  • Change of Status to F, J, M : Premium Processing Fee shall not exceed $1,750  and the premium processing time cannot exceed 30 days
  • Change of Status to H4, L2, Others : Premium processing fee shall not exceed $1,750 and the premium processing time frame cannot exceed 30 days.
  • EAD Applications : Premium processing fee for EAD is set to not greater than $1,500 and processing time frame cannot exceed 30 days.
  • EB-1C multinational executives and managers : Premium processing fee cannot exceed $2,500 and processing time cannot exceed 45 days.  
USCIS Fee for H4 L2 EAD Changes 1750 and 1500 Fee
USCIS Fee for H4,L2, EAD Changes 1750 and 1500 Fee

Premium Processing Time frame Starts after Biometrics, Prerequisites

As most of you know, there are Biometrics Requirements for I-539 form. Congress set it clearly saying that the above said Premium Processing timelines of 30 days will not start until the prerequisites of the application are met. They technically mean aspects like Biometrics and all the requirements for the application like Fee, required documents.  See below screenshot.

USCIS Fee Commencement Clarification
USCIS PP Fee – Processing time Commencement Clarification

Additional Premium Processing Provisions, Guidelines

  • Biennial Adjustment of Fee :  USCIS has the option to adjust the premium processing Fee every two years ( biennial). They should be based on Consumer Price Index factors.
  • Use of Premium Processing Fee : The fees collected can only be used by USCIS to provide services to premium processing requestors, make infrastructure improvements for adjudication of applications, naturalization benefit requests.
  • Premium Processing Services Suspension, Access : USCIS may suspend premium processing for a form type or visa category only if they cannot complete them within the required time period for premium processing. Also, the premium processing requests need to have direct and reliable access to case related status information. They also should communicate the case status properly at each of the service centers.
  • Process to keep Regular Processing Times balanced : It says that USCIS should make sure there are process in place not to increase the regular processing times of all these new forms that have premium processing. Because there are premium processing options now available for all these forms, USCIS should not delays the application in a nutshell, that’s the idea.
  • Report within 180 days : USCIS should submit a report to Congress within 180 days after this bill is passed to list our the 5 years plan and project costs, etc. Including all options and plans for electronic filing process, processing times reports, etc.  
  • Future Premium Processing for others: They are also have a general statement saying “any other benefit type that secretary deems appropriate for premium processing”. This basically will give more power to USCIS to include premium processing in future as needed for other forms without going to Congress…We need to wait and see.

Next Steps – USCIS

As the president has signed the bill and it is a law now, this will be directed to USCIS for next steps. USCIS will propose regulation for setting the fee of H4, L2 and EAD Premium Processing Fee. They will also update everyone when the $2500 fee will be effective. We need to wait for USCIS on these actions. Stay tuned, we will keep you all posted on the fee changes.

What do you think of the Premium Processing Changes and Fee increase? Add your thoughts in comments.

Reference : Check Official Bill on Congress.gov

   

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Comments ( 31 )

  1. Sana S.

    Scenario: Filed H4 extension of stay (EOS) application in May 2020, Receipt Notice received around June 27. No further change in case status ever since. H1 extension was approved in Mid August.

    Understandably there is a huge delay and insane processing times according to USCIS website. IL driving license expiring for H4 holder soon. We could not file the H4 EAD renewal concurrently for some technical issues.

    Question:

    1. Can I file H4 EAD renewal separately now after the I-94 expired, as one of the document required is valid proof of H4 status, now, can the receipt notice of the pending I-539 and expired I-94 acceptable for this proof of H4 status ?

    2. Driver’s license (IL) expiring soon, is there any other way (SAVE system verification), receipt notice of pending I-539 to renew the DL or getting a temporary driving license ?

    3. Is there a possibility to request expedited or premium processing (if at all applicable for H4) ?

    4. Given the situation, is it feasible that consulting an immigration law firm will provide some leads ?

    Please help with your inputs. Thank you so much for reading this long post.

  2. Monis Ansari

    Question regarding Nunc Pro Truc****
    My Family H4 documents were returned due to printout of the forms were not legible. (the scanned signed H-4 forms were printed out in a readable but lesser-size, resulting in the return of the H4 packet. )
    As I-94s of dependents expired so, we re-submission immediately.
    As per the rule, my spouse needs to depart US before the 180-days(10/30/2020) of Expired I-94 has reached to avoid triggering a 3-year/10-year bars.

    As I understand H4 Premium processing is not starting soon.

    In this current Covid situation, We dont want to send my family to India.
    What are the options, we have?
    Can we request to Expedite Applications or Appeal or wait till we receive response from USCIS(Approval/Denial)?
    Please Guide.

    1. AK

      Hi Monis, Quick question regarding your comment “As I understand H4 Premium processing is not starting soon.”. I read about the USCIS to start doing premium processing soon, do you happen to know when?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Dinesh,
      It applies to all EADs, that’s the law text. We will need to wait for USCIS to give details. Well, it will take time like few months at least, as they need to go through USCIS regulatory process.

  3. Amit

    Hello
    My I 140 was approved 2019. My H1b visa expired and my i94 as well. My company wanted to extended the visa but they delayed in sending the documents and applied for extension after my i94 expired and visa expired. A week before I applied for H4 based on my spouse H1 in case my H1 extension is denied. My company says they are doing it premium and will know as early as possible about H1b extension.
    My questions :
    1: What are chances of getting approved H1b extension after sending it late,is there any hope. How will this affect my green card process in future.
    2: Would my I140 approval be a waste if my H1b extension is denied?
    3: I have already completed my 6 years,if I get a job later next year would I apply for H1b from cap?transfer?extension with new employer?
    4: Provided I get job will it be a new cycle for green card application?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Amit,
      1. It can be approved, only trick is the I-94 with it or not. Worst case, it will approved without I-94 and you need to exit the country for stamping. It wont affect.
      2. No.
      3. if your I-40 was approved for over 180 days, you are cap exempt. no need for lottery .
      4. You retain your priority date as you have I-140 approved. Yes, new employer will need to do PERM and I-140 again.

  4. Fedotov

    Will it somehow speed up USCIS in issuing biometrics request letters? My family’s H4 change of status is pending since April.

    Premium Processing is something I’d go for to make sure my wife can have her driver’s license back, but from this update it looks like premium won’t kick in until the dependents submit their biometrics?

      1. Fedotov

        What did you say to them? I had an impression that only the petitioning employer can talk to USCIS if it’s related to H-visas. Tier 2 officer is their call center, correct?

        1. Painter

          No, the applicant has every rights to talk to them. I explained my situation about financial loss and waiting for 5 long months and the officer scheduled an appointment for biometrics and I also completed it. Call early in the morning before 9 am est and say the csr that you want to talk to tier 2 officer and want to expedite the case through them, they will take your number and will call you back.

          1. Rose

            Thanks, Painter. On your advice I was able to talk to a tier 2 employee and got a biometric appointment. After biometrics how much time did it take for your approval to come? I have just 5 days left for my EAD to expire after the scheduled biometric appointment date. 🙁

          2. Satya

            Hello Painter,

            I have applied for COS from h4 to F1 on august 6th. I have not received my biometric appointment yet. What reason I could say to expedite my biometrics?

  5. administrator
    Kumar

    We need to wait for USCIS on this as they need to go through regulatory process. It will take some time. Some like fee increase may go into effect soon…Let’s wait for USCIS.

    1. Venkat

      Hi Kumar,
      Do USCIS needs a regulatory process to make this law available to public ? I read that uscis regulatory process takes an average of 10-12 months, is this true? If so mostly we won’t see H4 PP at least in next 6-10 months?

      Thanks,
      Venkat

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