On September 30, 2020 the President signed H.R. 8337 the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, which will fund the government through December 11, 2020. Included in the Act is language from the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act (H.R. 8089), which seeks to address USCIS’s budget shortfall.
The relevant language begins on page 30 of the Act. Please note that while the law takes effect immediately, the increased fees and expanded availability of premium processing will not take effect until USCIS is able to implement them.
The bill would:
- Immediately give USCIS access to premium processing funds to pay for operational expenses, which are otherwise reserved for infrastructure improvement.
- Authorizes premium processing services to be provided to:
- Employment-based nonimmigrant petitions and associated applications for dependents;
- Form I-140 petitions;
- Form I-539;
- Form I-765; and
- Any other immigration benefit type deemed appropriate by the Secretary.
- Increases the premium processing fee for benefit requests that are already eligible for premium processing services from $1,440 to $2,500, except for H-2B and R-1 petitions.
- Requires rulemaking to set fees for expanded premium processing services, but it must be consistent with the following:
- EB-1 petitions for Multinational Managers and Executives or EB-2 NIW petitions – fee is no greater than $2,500 and processing time is no greater than 45 days.
- Change of status requests for F, J and M – fee is no greater than $1,750 and processing time is no greater than 30 days.
- Change of status requests for dependents seeking E, H, L, O, P and R – fee is no greater than $1,750 and processing time is no greater than 30 days.
- Form I-765 – fee is no greater than $1,750 and processing time is no greater than 30 days.
- Allows for a biennial adjustment of premium processing fees based on the Consumer Price Index without rulemaking.
- Clarifies that the processing time clock does not begin until “all prerequisites for adjudication are received” by DHS.
- Ensures that providing expanded premium processing services does not result in an increase in processing times for other benefit applications.
- Requires a semi-annual congressional briefing and that within 180 days, USCIS provide a five year plan on establishing:
- Electronic filing procedures for all applications and petitions;
- Acceptance of electronic filing at all locations; and
- Issuance of all correspondence and notices electronically.