In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
Immigration Update: USCIS Premium Processing Fee Hike
By: Jan Pederson
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced an increase in premium processing fees charged by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The 12 percent increases over the current rates, with fees rising from $1,500 to $1,685; $1,750 to $1,965; and $2,500 to $2,805. The fee increases take effect on February 26, 2024.
Premium processing offers expedited processing of certain employment-based visa petitions and other applications in exchange for an additional fee. An adjudication must be made within the agreed upon time or USCIS must return the premium processing fee.
The current premium processing times are:
- 15 calendar days for E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-3, L1 (including Blanket L-1), O, P, Q, or TN nonimmigrant classification, H-2B or R nonimmigrant classification, and EB-1 (E11, E12), EB-2 (E21 non- NIW), or EB-3 (E31, E32, EW3) immigrant
- 30 calendar days for Form I-765 Employment Authorization Documents for F-1 students seeking OPT or STEM OPT extensions.
- 30 calendar days for Form I-539 applicants requesting a change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status after meeting all prerequisites, including biometrics.
- 45 calendar days for Form I-140 EB13 immigrant visa petitions for multinational executive and managers; Form I-140 EB-2 national interest waiver immigrant visa self-petitions and Form I-140 EB-2 physician national interest waiver immigrant visa petitions
This fee hike notably impacts employers, particularly those hiring foreign nationals under visas like H-1Bs. Without premium processing, USCIS adjudication of H-1B petitions can take months. Employers must now consider the increased cost of premium processing when making hiring decisions involving employees requiring H-1B petitions or other immigration benefits, potentially affecting their ability to swiftly onboard necessary talent. The new rule was published in the Federal Registrar on December 28, 2023.
We suggest employers consider filing H-1B extensions and other premium processing applications before the fee increases take effect. H-1 petitions may be filed up to six months before the anticipated H-1B start date. The I-539 change of status applications have flexible times when they can be filed.
Our attorneys are available for consultations on this and other immigration matters. Please contact Corey at email@example.com to schedule a consultation with Jan Pederson.