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More Premium Processing: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

While the expansion of premium processing will be hailed by many foreign nationals as a godsend, we should all be cautiously optimistic about this new benefit being offered by USCIS. Will immigrant applicants need to pay expensive premium processing fees simply to prevent themselves from having inordinately lengthy wait times, much longer than we see today? Compare premium processing to seats on an airplane at the front of economy class, which airlines sell for additional fees on the basis that they have additional legroom that was created by compacting the seats in the back of the aircraft. The premium seats created a better experience, but made the experience of regular coach passengers more miserable.

Accordingly, everyone essentially becomes compelled to pay for premium processing, and the overall benefit realized by any given individual may only be marginal. See article: Congress Greatly Expands Premium Processing For Immigration Benefits

With the passage of "Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act", which President Trump signed into law on September 30, 2020, USCIS has expanded the "premium processing" benefit. As a result, premium processing is now available for a substantially wider variety of USCIS applications than in the past. However, almost nothing in the world of U.S. immigration is without a caveat, and that is also the case here. Accordingly, while a greater number of USCIS applications now qualify for premium processing, both the fee and the turnaround time have significantly risen. In the past, USCIS was required to respond to applications requesting premium processing within 15 days, the minimum turnaround time for such applications is now 30 days. Similarly, for applications where premium processing was available in the past, the minimum fee for requesting premium processing has risen from $1,440 to $2,500 (except for H-2B and R-1 petitions). 

These are the types of applications that now qualify for premium processing:

  1. Employment-based non-immigrant petitions and associated applications for dependents;

  2. Form I-140 petitions;

  3. Form I-539;

  4. Form I-765; and

  5. Any other immigration benefit type deemed appropriate by the Secretary.

The new law allows DHS to set fees for expanded premium processing services, but the fees must be consistent with the following: 

  1. EB-1 petitions for Multinational Managers and Executives, or EB-2 NIW petitions – fee must be no greater than $2,500 and processing time must be no greater than 45 days;

  2. Change of status requests for F, J and M - fee must be no greater than $1,750, and processing time must be no greater than 30 days;

  3. Change of status requests for dependents seeking E, H, L, O, P and R – fee must be no greater than $1,750, and processing time must be no greater than 30 days; and

  4. Form I-765 – fee must be no greater than $1,750, and processing time must be no greater than 30 days.

We assist countless foreign nationals and we will be happy to personally assist you with your application as well. Send us an E-mail or call us at (888)354-6257. For reasons on why you should consult an immigration attorney whenever you have an immigration issue, see our page titled: Reasons Why it is Vital to Use an Immigration Lawyer.



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