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USCIS Implements Inflation-Driven Changes to Premium Processing Fees: What Applicants Need to Know

Introduction:

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently made an announcement regarding an inflation adjustment to premium processing fees. This move is part of the agency’s efforts to maintain financial stability and cover the rising costs associated with providing expedited processing services for certain immigration benefits. In this article, we will explore the key details of the USCIS announcement and its potential implications for applicants seeking premium processing services.

Background:

Premium processing is an optional service offered by the USCIS that allows petitioners to expedite the processing of certain immigration benefit requests. This service is available for various visa categories, including employment-based petitions such as H-1B, L-1, O-1, and certain I-140 immigrant petitions. By paying an additional fee, applicants can receive a faster adjudication of their petitions, typically within 15 calendar days.

Inflation Adjustment:

On December 27, 2023, the USCIS announced an inflation adjustment to the premium processing fees, as authorized by the USCIS Stabilization Act which established the current premium processing fees and the authority for the Department of Homeland Security to adjust the premium fees on a biennial basis.. The adjustment is in line with the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), which measures changes in the cost of goods and services over time.

Key Changes:

  1. Fee Increase: The USCIS has increased the premium processing fees for certain visa petitions, please see the table below for reference. This adjustment reflects the rising costs associated with maintaining efficient and timely processing of premium petitions.
  2. Effective Date: The new premium processing fee will be effective starting February 26, 2024. Any applications or petitions submitted on or after this date will be subject to the updated fee.
  3. Transparency: The USCIS is committed to providing transparency regarding fee adjustments and ensuring that stakeholders are informed in a timely manner. The announcement includes detailed information on how the new fees were calculated and the factors contributing to the adjustment.
  1. The full table of adjusted fees is:

Form

Previous Fee

New Fee

Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

$1,500 (H-2B or R-1 nonimmigrant status)

$2,500 (All other available Form I-129 classifications (E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, TN-1, and TN-2))

$1,685 (H-2B or R-1 nonimmigrant status)

$2,805 (All other available Form I-129 classifications (E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, TN-1, and TN-2))

Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

$2,500 (Employment-based (EB) classifications E11, E12, E21 (non-NIW), E31, E32, EW3, E13 and E21 (NIW))

$2,805 (Employment-based (EB) classifications E11, E12, E21 (non-NIW), E31, E32, EW3, E13 and E21 (NIW))

Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

$1,750 (Form I-539 classifications F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, J-2, E-1, E-2, E-3, L-2, H-4, O-3, P-4, and R-2)

$1,965 (Form I-539 classifications F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, J-2, E-1, E-2, E-3, L-2, H-4, O-3, P-4, and R-2)

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

$1,500 (Certain F-1 students with categories C03A, C03B, C03C)

$1,685 (Certain F-1 students  with categories C03A, C03B, C03C)

Impact on Applicants:

The fee increase may have financial implications for employers, petitioners, and beneficiaries relying on premium processing services. It is crucial for stakeholders to be aware of the changes and plan accordingly when budgeting for immigration-related expenses. While the fee adjustment may pose additional financial challenges for some, the expedited processing offered through premium processing remains an attractive option for those seeking swift adjudication of their immigration petitions.

Conclusion:

The USCIS’s announcement of an inflation adjustment to premium processing fees reflects the agency’s ongoing commitment to financial responsibility and ensuring the sustainability of its operations. As immigration policies and procedures continue to evolve, applicants and stakeholders must stay informed about fee adjustments and any other changes that may impact their immigration processes. For the latest updates and information, individuals are encouraged to regularly check the USCIS website and official communication channels.

By: Felipe Jimenez

Felipe Jimenez is an Associate Attorney at Reddy & Neumann, P.C. He works in the Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV) Department where he assists clients through all phases of the non-immigrant visa process.

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. has been serving the business community for over 20 years and is Houston’s largest immigration law firm focused solely on US. Employment-based immigration. We work with both employers and their employees, helping them navigate the immigration process quickly and cost-effectively.