Update Aug 23, 2020: A new bill has passed the House to increase the premium processing fees by a whopping $1,000.
- Current Premium fees to increase from $1440 to $2500.
- H-2B, Religious workers (R Visa) premium fees to be $1500.
This bill needs to pass the Senate too to avoid USCIS furloughs.
It also allows multiple application types that were not eligible for premium processing earlier to be allowed now:
- Employment-based non-immigrant petitions not already subject to premium processing will be included. H-1B is currently eligible for premium services.
- Green card petitions (EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3) not already subject to premium processing will be eligible for filing in premium. Example: i140 for EB-1C Multinational executives and managers will be allowed to use expedited processing.
- Applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status (i-539) for H4, L2 will be allowed to pay and get approvals faster. Other applications could be H4 to F1, H1B to H4, H4 to L2, and then L2 EAD or vice versa.
- Applications for H4 EAD, L2 EAD, and others will be allowed to use premium instead of expediting requests which are at the discretion of USCIS officer.
The bill does not have any clause to expedite or process biometric also in premium.
But, if premium service will be made available for H4 and L2 extensions too, then we believe that fast biometric should also be provided.
For people who are currently waiting for their biometric appointment, they may be able to upgrade their application to premium. We will share the updated guidelines as USCIS makes changes once this bill becomes a law.
PERM will not be eligible for the premium service.
PERM is approved by DOL (department of labor) and is a different organization than USCIS.
This article will discuss:
Earlier, DHS and USCIS finalized the rule to change premium processing time from 15 calendar days to 15 working days.
The change will be implemented starting Oct 2, 2020.
- New: 15 business days (excludes weekend + holidays)
- Current: 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 than 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)
- National emergency office closures like COVID-19.
So, a certain level of ‘uncertainty’ is now being added to the premium processing timeline. Keep guessing the holidays and counting days!
US Home Address Mandatory
DHS ‘s new rule makes it mandatory to provide a valid domestic address (US address) for any new Form I129 (H1B extension, transfer, amendment) 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 the current work location before any extension, amendment or transfer can be approved?
Fee Increase – Oct 2, 2020
USCIS will also divide the current form I-129 to different forms based on the 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||$695|
|I-129E&TN||E (Australia) or TN (Canada, Mexico)||$695|
|I-129H2A||H-2A||$850 (named); $415 (unnamed)|
|I-129H2B||H-2B||$715 (named); $385 (unnamed)|
|I-129MISC||H-3, P, Q, or R||$695|
- The new form for L visa, I-129L, will further sub-divide the L1A manager and L1A executives. The fees will remain the same for both managers and executives.
- Max limit of 25 names workers on Form I-129H2A, I-129H2B, and I-129O.
DHS has proposed to increase the USCIS application fees by an average of 21%.
|Current Fees||New fees|
|I-130 – Sponsor GC for Relative||$535||$550 (Online)|
|I-131 – Advance Parole||$575||$590|
|I-140 – Immigrant Petition||$700||$555|
|I-485 – Green Card AOS – Adult||$1130 (with EAD, AP)||$1120 (without EAD, AP)|
|I-485 – Green Card AOS – Child (<14)||$750||$1130|
|I-526 – EB5 Investment Green Card||$3675||$4010|
|I-539 – Extend/Change Non immigrant Status (H4, L2, F2)||$370||$390|
|I-765 – Employment Permit – H4 EAD, L2 EAD etc||$410||$550|
|N-400 – US citizenship – Naturalization||$640||$1160 (Online)
|Biometric Services Fees (for I485, I131, I-539)||$85||$30|
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 a 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 has sided with the customer in many cases as there was no 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 a 15-day premium processing timeline is not honored if your application is waiting for a security check.
Online Form Filling
USCIS encourages 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.