After being passed by Congress and signed by the President on October 1, 2020, a new law will make USCIS’s Premium Processing service more efficient for those who are going through the U.S. immigration system. Previously, employers and individuals could experience long and unpredictable processing times before receiving USCIS benefits. This expedited processing service allows an applicant to pay an additional fee and receive expedited processing of the petition within a designated timeline. Under the new legislation, USCIS will make Premium Processing available for almost all employment-based immigration and non-immigrant petitions, as well as petitions for their dependents, and petitions for an extension or change of visa status. Premium processing provides expedited processing for the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. These forms guarantee processing in a period of 15 calendar days to immigrants who would like to use the service. If that time frame is not met for any reason, the USCIS will reimburse an individual for the cost of the premium processing service fee and proceed with expedited processing.
New Legislation Aims to Expedite the Process
In addition to the opportunity to pay USCIS for faster service, the new processing update will be expanded to cover new immigration categories. The employment authorization document (EAD) is one example of the processes that can be greatly affected. USCIS used to have a 90-day limit on processing the applications, but these have slowed to six months or longer in certain service centers.
Before this new legislation, USCIS guidelines guaranteed processing within 15 calendar days and the cost of premium processing was $1,440 for those applying for temporary visas. For immigrant applications, premium processing was available, with certain exceptions, for the employment-based (EB-1, 2, 3) visas.
Application types now eligible for premium processing include employment-based nonimmigrant petitions and associated applications for dependents of the petitioners, such as:
Employment-based (EB) immigrant petitions filed by or on behalf of aliens in the first three EB preferences;
Applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status;
Applications for employment authorization; and
Any other immigration benefit type that the Secretary determines is appropriate for premium processing.
The revised cost for premium processing applies to immigration benefit types that were eligible for premium processing on or before August 1, 2020, and the fee will be $2,500, except for the H-2B or R categories, which will cost $1,500.
For those immigration benefit categories that never had premium processing, the fee will be established using a detailed methodology. The legislation includes details on the maximum costs and timeframes for premium processing depending on the benefit types that are eligible.
In a continued effort to improve processing times for all immigration and naturalization benefit requests, the new legislation mandates that the Secretary of Homeland Security give Congress a five-year plan to establish electronic filing procedures for all applications. It also is requesting that electronic fee payments are accepted electronically at all filing locations. They will issue decisions, requests for evidence, and notices of intent to deny to applicants electronically.
Besides permitting USCIS to increase the fees, the new law also gives the agency more flexibility in how it uses the money, including by reducing the number of pending immigration and naturalization benefit requests.
Contact a DuPage County Immigration Lawyer
Premium processing can expedite an individual’s immigration application, reducing long wait times for certain petitions. At the distinguished law firm of Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C., we understand how complicated immigration laws and processes can be. Our experienced and knowledgeable Itasca immigration attorneys will assist you every step of the way so you and your family can achieve a positive outcome. Call our office today at 630-875-1700 to schedule your private consultation.