Congress Passes Bill Permitting Wide Expansion of Premium Processing Program

On Thursday, October 1st, H.R.8337, a bill aimed to fund the federal government, was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. Among other measures, H.R.8337 will permit the USCIS to make sweeping, expansive changes to its premium processing services, which companies and employees have long benefited from for expedited adjudication of certain petition-based filings, such as H-1B change of employers.

The legislation sets the stage for the USCIS to establish a schedule of different premium processing fees and timelines for a wide range of employment-based filings, applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status, applications for employment authorization documents (EAD)s, and other immigration benefits. The base premium processing fee, which is currently $1,440, will increase to $2,500 for categories that are already eligible for premium processing, including H-1Bs, O-1s, and most I-140 immigrant petition filings. Fees and required processing timeframe for other categories will vary based on the specific immigration benefit. Importantly, premium processing for I-765 employment authorization applications will not exceed $1,750, with processing time not to exceed 30 days.

What This Means for Our Clients

While H.R. 8337 paves the way for faster services for many new immigration case types, it does not mandate that the USCIS make this available for any particular case, or require that the new service be implemented within any particular time frame. It is thus unclear how the new law will impact current processing backlogs that, in many cases, exceed well over six months. Hopefully, the USCIS will implement premium processing for EAD applications in the near future; backlogs for these applications has resulted in delays in onboarding new employees, and furloughing of existing employees whose EADs are not approved quickly enough.

H.R.8337 will allow the USCIS to dramatically increase revenue from its premium processing program, likely overcoming the losses from the recent temporary injunction that blocked the USCIS' planned fee increases. The steep increases in premium processing fees for H-1Bs and other petition-based filings, however, will put premium processing out of reach for many employers, who have until now relied on this service to quickly and efficiently onboard new employees.

We will provide our clients updates as they become available.

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