USCIS Premium Processing Fee Increase Creates Confusion

Jan 12, 2024

On December 27, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a premium processing press release. According to the release, the Application for a Change or Extension of Stay (Form I-539) for H-4 and L-2 dependents will no longer qualify for premium processing. However, this announcement has left many applicants confused.

The confusion comes with how submissions interact with other forms. For example, premium processing could apply when submitting Form I-539 with a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) for H-1B or L-1 beneficiaries. The USCIS will review Form I-539 after reviewing Form I-129s, which underwent premium processing. This process means Form I-539’s adjudication may happen within the premium processing timeframe.

The USCIS announced a final rule increasing the fees for Premium Processing to adjust for inflation. These fee increases will take effect on February 26, 2024. Premium processing fees first appeared as part of the USCIS Stabilization Act, which also gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to adjust them periodically. The fees have remained the same for the past three years. The USCIS now adjusts them for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers using the period between June 2021 and June 2023.

Employers should consult whether to attempt submitting applications before the upcoming fees take effect. Here is a list of the price changes for some of the forms:

  • Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, classifications (H-2B or R-1 nonimmigrant status): increase from $1,500 to $1,685.
  • Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, 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): increase from $2,500 to $2,805.
  • Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, classifications (Employment-based (EB) classifications E11, E12, E21 (non-NIW), E31, E32, EW3, E13 and E21 (NIW)): increase from $2,500 to $2,805.
  • Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, (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): increase from $1,750 to $1,965.
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (Certain F-1 students with categories C03A, C03B, C03C): increase from $1,500 to $1,685.

Employers that hire foreign nationals must remember to complete employment eligibility verification (Form I-9). However, this can be more confusing for these workers due to the many different forms of documentation they may present. One way to ensure compliance is by working with a trustworthy background check company offering an I-9 management system with the option of E-Verify integration.

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