DHS and USCIS have proposed a rule that intends to increase application fees along with increasing premium processing time.
This article will discuss:
- Premium Processing – 15 Business Days
- Extension, Amendment, Transfer Need Home Address
- Divide Form I-129 Into Sub-Forms, New fees
- USCIS Application Fees Increase
- i485 Fees – Pay Separate Fee for EAD, AP
- Returned Check Fee, Credit Card Fee non refundable
- Social Media Screenings, Security Checks Fee
- Online Form Filing
Premium processing time of 15 days is proposed to change to 15 business days (excludes weekend + holidays) instead of 15 calendar days (includes Saturday, Sunday).
This will substantially increase the processing time even when you pay an extra $1400+ to USCIS for doing the same job faster that they are supposed to do in regular processing.
Premium processing time will now be about 18 to 20+ days instead of 15 as business days are counted excluding:
- Weekends (Saturday, Sunday)
- Federal Government Holidays
- Weather related closures (national or local office working on your application)
So, a certain level of ‘uncertainty‘ is now being added to premium processing timeline. Keep guessing the holidays and counting days!
Extension, Amendment, Transfer Need Home Address
DHS ‘s new rule will make it mandatory to provide valid domestic address (US address) for any new Form I129 that’s filed for a named worker, who is present in the United States when submitting the form.
This is another level of check that has been added to verify H1B and L work locations in addition to USCIS physical site visits. Is USCIS going to start verifying current work location before an extension, amendment or transfer can be approved?
USCIS plans to add the site visit fees to form I-129 fees!
Divide Form I-129 Into Sub-Forms, New fees
USCIS will also divide the current form I-129 to different forms based on type of visa application.
Form I-129 for H1B visa will now be named I-129H1, I-129L for L visa, I-129O for O visa and so on.
The current fees for I-129 is $460 which is scheduled to increase:
|I-129CW||CNMI-Only Transitional Worker||$705|
|I-129E&TN||E (Australia) or TN (Canada, Mexico)||$705|
|I-129H2A||H-2A||$860 (named); $425 (unnamed)|
|I-129H2B||H-2B||$725 (named); $395 (unnamed)|
|I-129MISC||H-3, P, Q, or R||$705|
- The new form for L visa, I-129L, will further sub-divide L1A manager and L1A executives. The fees will remain same for both managers and executives.
- Max limit of 25 names workers on Form I-129H2A, I-129H2B and I-129O.
USCIS Application Fees Increase
DHS has proposed to increase the USCIS application fees by an average of 21%.
|Current Fees||New fees||Increase|
|I-130 – Sponsor GC for Relative||$535||$555||+4%|
|I-131 – Advance Parole||$575||$585||+2%|
|I-140 – Immigrant Petition||$700||$545||-22%|
|I-485 – Green Card AOS – Adult||$1140 (with EAD, AP)||$1120 (without EAD, AP)||-2%|
|I-485 – Green Card AOS – Child (<14)||$750||$1120||+50%|
|I-526 – EB5 Investment Green Card||$3675||$4015||+9%|
|I-539 – Extend/Change Non immigrant Status (H4, L2, F2)||$370||$400||+8%|
|I-765 – Employment Permit – H4 EAD, L2 EAD etc||$410||$490||+20%|
|N-400 – US citizenship – Naturalization||$640||$1170||+83%|
|Biometric Services Fees (for I485, I131)||$85||0 (Now included in primary application fees)||-100%|
i485 Fees – Pay Separate Fee for EAD, AP
As reported by Emily Neumann in her ImmigrationGirl blog, DHS wants to separate EAD and AP from the i485 application fees.
In Current set up, you are allowed to pay the required fee for a Form I-485 and include Form I-765 and/or a Form I-131 without paying any additional fees. Note that even though you pay single fees, the cost of EAD and AP are included in i485 fees.
Before the FY 2008/2009 fee rule, applicants paid separate fees to apply for employment authorization or a travel document while waiting on USCIS to adjudicate Form I-485. DHS has now decided to return to same old rule and charge separate fees for Forms I-485, I-765, and I-131.
- If you filed Form I485 after July 30, 2007 (the FY 2008/2009 fee rule) and before this proposed change takes effect, you are allowed to file Forms I-131 and I-765 without additional fees for as long as your Form I-485 is pending.
- If you filed before the FY 2008/2009 fee rule or after this proposed change becomes effective, you would pay separate fees for interim benefits (EAD and AP).
|Form i485 Filing Date||Bundled i485 Fees Applies?|
|Before July 30, 2007||No|
|After July 30, 2007, but before [INSERT EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS RULE]||Yes|
|After implementing this proposed change with a final rule||No|
Returned Check Fee, Credit Card Fee non refundable
DHS has clarified that they will stop charging returned check fee of $30.
USCIS also confirms that all fees are non-refundable including the one paid using credit card. USCIS says that people file refund claims with their credit card company if their case gets denied and they have lost a number of such claims.
The credit card company have sided with customer in many cases as there was not clear mention of word ‘non-refundable’ by USCIS.
USCIS says that they need extra fees due to increased steps in application processing including ‘Social media screenings’ and ‘National security Checks’ before approving applications.
It is a known fact that 15 day premium processing timeline is not honored if your application is waiting for security check.
Online Form Filing
USCIS expects to transition to online filing and electronic processing of applications. They expect to provide near-real-time processing updates on the case status for each stage of processing.
Example: Form i539 can be filed online for many applications including H4 extension.
Source: USCIS Proposed Rule