** LEGAL UPDATE **
On September 30, 2020, President Trump signed H.R. 8337, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act. It contained several significant changes to the USCIS premium processing program, of interest to anyone hoping for a quick decision on their immigration application or petition.
Premium processing currently is available for many immigration benefit applications to obtain 15 calendar day-processing, rather than the normal processing that can run to months or years in some cases. By submitting Form I-907 and the current fee of $1,440, USCIS agrees to provide an approval, denial, or request for evidence within 15 calendar days.
Up to now, premium processing has been available for I-129 petitions requesting nonimmigrant classification in the following visa categories: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, Blanket L petitions, O-1, O-2, P-1 and P-2 and supporting staff, Q-1, R-1, and TN.
For I-140 immigrant petitions, that is, persons seeking to become lawful permanent residents, premium processing has been available for EB-1 petitions for extraordinary ability and outstanding professors and researchers, EB-2 petitions for professionals with advanced degrees who are not seeking a National Interest Waiver, and EB-3 petitions in the three sub-categories of professionals, skilled workers, and other workers.
Once USCIS implements the premium processing expansion provisions in the bill, the new immigrant benefit petitions and applications, along with the agency's premium processing timelines, will include:
The fee for premium processing will increase to $2,500 for most benefits.
Exceptions include H-2B and R-1 petitions, which will require a $1,500 fee, F, J, and M change of status applications and E, H, L, O, P, and R applications for dependent family members’ change or extension of status, which will require a $1,750 fee, and applications for employment authorization documents (EADs), which will require a $1,500 fee.
USCIS was also ready to separately implement a new filing-fee rule on October 2, 2020, which would have not only raised fees for numerous immigration applications, but changed the standard premium processing time for currently available benefit categories from "calendar days" to "business days" (thus allowing USCIS not to count weekends and holidays). A court temporarily blocked implementation of the rule, but it is expected that USCIS eventually will convert from calendar to business days for purposes of counting the premium-processing timeline.
As for implementation of these changes, USCIS still needs to create new forms and guidelines. But it has announced an effective date for the change, of October 19, 2020.
Effective Date: October 19, 2020