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USCIS Premium Processing for H4, L2, EAD. $2500 for H1B

US Congress passed bill HR 8337 in September 2020 that added Premium Processing option for H1B, L1 dependents(H4, L2), including all EAD categories. It also increased the premium processing fee. This bill was passed as part of big Govt. spending bill. This article will cover all the details related to the changes to premium processing options.

Background – HR 8337 Bill with Premium Processing Changes

HR 8337 was a big stopgap bill that was aimed at funding federal agencies and preventing them from shutdown until December 11th, 2020. on Sep 30th, 2020 US Senate passed the bill H.R. 8337 that was already passed in House .  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 into law on October 1st, 2020.

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 existing 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.  

For latest updates, news check – Current Status of H4 & H4 EAD Premium Processing, Timeline

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.

YouTube video

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 from $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 exact premium processing fee for H4, L2, EAD, Extensions and Change of Status(COS) applications. The Bill says 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. As per the Bill, 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 Actions

As the president has signed the bill into law, it is now with USCIS for next steps.

  • USCIS increased the proposed premium processing fee for existing categories like H1B, L1, others starting from October 19, 2020.
  • They will need to propose a regulation for setting the fee of H4, L2 and EAD Premium Processing Fee. No action taken by them yet.

Latest News of H4, L2, EAD Premium Processing

As of October 21st, 2021, there is no update from USCIS on the H4, L2 and EAD premium processing options. It was added to the Spring 2021 Regulatory Agenda by Biden Administration with a planned date of September 2021, but nothing really happened even after end of September 2021. All the latest updates for the implementation of premium processing with focus on H4 & H4 EAD premium processing are tracked at : Current Status of H4 & H4 EAD Premium Processing, Timeline

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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58 Comments

  1. Is there any update from USCIS? People are losing their jobs. I’ve lost mine even though I’ve applied for my extension by the earliest possible date. We deserve at least a temporary resolution like allowing work on timely application receipt.

    Reply
  2. Hi Kumar,

    Thanks for sharing the information. But bill HR 8337 shows as became a law.
    As on the URL: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8337/related-bills

    But if we look at the related bills, either they are in status “Introduced” or “Passed House”.
    1. H.R.8078 – Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8078/text

    2. H.R.8089 – Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8089/related-bills

    Does this means they are in effect?

    Thanks,
    Rastogi

    Reply
  3. Scenario:
    Currently in L2 visa with EAD. visa will expire on 1st july same for I94.
    Husband’s L1 visa got approved in premium process. Received the docs. new stamp has not been in place in passport yet.
    My L2 extension and EAD extension both were applied together.
    Given the long delay of getting extension for dependent I am planning to go to India and get L2 visa stamped from there. Then come back in USA again and try to expediate the EAD process or apply a new application for EAD again.
    Please help me if I can get L2 visa stamp from India now. How long should I expect regarding time taking for getting visa stamped.

    Reply
  4. Is there any possibility of this law being implemented this year?
    They expanded PP to E3 visas for Australian nationals, but not to other categories included in the HR 8337 bill. Also, there was no update after 180 days.

    Reply
  5. Is it possible to apply for premium processing now ? Ead expiring on 3/25 and haven’t heard anything yet. Applied in October in Nebraska service center.

    Reply
  6. Just a quick question.
    When will USCIS allow H4 and H4 EAD Premium processing ?
    Its been more than couple months since the law was passed but I haven’t seen any updates regarding the H4 EAD premium processing .

    Reply
  7. Hello,

    Will premium processing be available for form I-539 when applying for COS from H1-B to B2? I lost my job on September 10th and have not been able to secure new employment yet. I am planning on filing for a COS to B2 to extend my time and seek new employment.

    Thank you,
    Tulip

    Reply
    • Hi!!

      My husband I-140is approved and he has his H-1b visa approved until dec 2022.I recently got my H4 visa approved until dec 2022 via emergency appointment in india and travelled back to US last week. In the port of entry, immigration officer saw my passport expiry date which is 13oct 2021 and gave my I-94 validity until 13oct 2021. Now I want to apply for my h4EAD and I got to know that I can get H4 EAD only until my I-94 validity.

      I am planning to apply for new passport soon.

      Can I apply for H4 EAD now and once I get my new passport can I apply again with the new passport with I-539 application to have my I-94 dates updated with the latest or should I wait until I get my new passport and then apply for H4 EAD with I-539 together. Which is better and ideal approach to take here ??
      Would Really appreciate any help or suggestions on my screnario. Thanks everyone for the help.

      Reply
  8. 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.

    Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
    • 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?

      Reply
  10. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • Hi,
      I have applied for EAD renewal (L1 dependent, a18 category) before this premium processing option was available, I have received action notice but have not received approval yet. I have 2 questions –
      1. If you have applied for extension in time, do you get 180 days automatic extension or it is only for few categories?
      2. Can you start premium processing for existing case? If yes can you please suggest steps for the same.

      Thanks.
      Arati

      Reply
  11. 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?

    Reply
      • 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?

        Reply
        • 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.

          Reply
          • 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. 🙁

          • 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?

          • My wife called USCIS two weeks ago and talked to a tier-2 officer. They seemed quite reasonable and created something like a “help ticket” within their system for both my spouse and our child. Tier 2 officer said that now that the ticket is created they will reach out to the USCIS service center (Vermont) and request for our biometrics to be scheduled. No action since then. USCIS case status tracker still shows “my case was received” message. We have those two “help ticket” numbers, but can we use them to track anything?

  12. 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.

    Reply

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