USCIS announced last week the implementation of adjustments that will slow the processing of Premium Processing Service cases, as well as increase filing fees for the majority of requests as part of a published Final Rule.
As covered in our previous blog post, a proposed Final Rule was reopened in January and the comment period extended to February 10. On May 27, 2020, the USCIS Fee Rule went to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). OIRA completed its review on July 22, 2020, and the Final Rule was published on July 31, 2020.
In addition to lengthening processing for the Premium Processing Service and adjusting fees for petitions filed with USCIS, the Final Rule removes certain fee exemptions, changes fee waiver requirements, modifies intercountry adoption processing, and makes certain adjustments to filing requirements for nonimmigrant workers.
The Final Rule, including the adjusted fee amounts, is effective October 2, 2020. Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after that date must include the new fees under the Final Rule.
Adjustment to Premium Processing Timelines
As part of the Final Rule, USCIS has adjusted the processing time for its Premium Processing Service, which provides accelerated processing of some visa submissions for an additional filing fee ($1,440). The Final Rule will increase the processing time from fifteen (15) calendar days to fifteen (15) business days. This change will increase processing times associated with the Premium Processing Service, which will provide less flexibility to employers and lengthen the time required to secure approvals of work authorization.
Changes to Filing Fees for Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Petitions
The Final Rule adjusts the USCIS fee schedule to “provide for recovery of the estimated full cost of immigration adjudication and naturalization services,” according to the language in the published Final Rule. DHS is adjusting USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 20 percent, adding new fees for certain immigration benefit requests, establishing multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions, and limiting the number of beneficiaries for certain forms.
Of particular note, USCIS has implemented varying filing fees for Form I-129, petitions with USCIS for H, L, O, E, and TN visas. Under the Final Rule, each non-immigrant category will be subject to a separate fee rather than the current fee of $460.