US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within Homeland Security responsible for adjudicating applications and petitions seeking immigration and naturalization benefits, announced on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, that it will not engage in en masse staffing furloughs before the close of the fiscal year on September 30, 2020. As previously reported on Mayer Brown’s
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.
USCIS Furloughs Postponed and Possibly Avoided
In June 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) served notice on The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union representing the agency’s 13,400 fee-based employees, that absent approval by Congress of $1.2 billion requested as part of the pending stimulus bill to make up for a precipitous…
Some 70% of the 20,000 employees of US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the agency within Homeland Security that adjudicates visa-related benefits for all foreign workers, could face furloughs starting as early as August 3, 2020, unless Congress provides $1.2 billion in emergency funding. This budget shortfall was caused by a dramatic decrease in the number…
Updated on April 2, 2020.
On Friday, March 27, 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B registrations through its new electronic registration system needed to reach the annual cap, which includes registrations for both the 65,000 regular cap, as well as the 20,000 allotted US advanced degree exemption (or “master’s cap”).
USCIS states that it will notify employers no later than March 31, 2020 if any of their registrations have been selected in the lottery. The process remains as reported in our prior Mobile Workforce post, As March 20 Fast Approaches, Where Do Your H-1B Cap Cases Stand?…
Continue Reading USCIS Announces H-1B FY 2021 Lottery Selection Complete, With Notification to Selected Petitioners Slated for March 31
On April 11, 2019, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions needed to reach both the annual 65,000 regular cap and the 20,000 master’s cap. USCIS received 201,011 H-1B petitions during the period of April 1-5, 2019, which is an increase of nearly 11,000 petitions compared …
The White House appears to be eyeing the former head of a well-known anti-immigration group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Julie Kirchner, to take the helm of US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with administering immigration and naturalization benefits. Kirchner, who joined the administration shortly after the president took office, currently serves as USCIS Ombudsman, the office tasked with resolving complex individual case issues, as well as providing recommendations for improvement in the administration of overall case processing.
Continue Reading DHS Shake-Up May Lead to Change in USCIS Leadership