By Victoria Morte, Immigration Attorney
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced changes to certain U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) benefit request processing and fees, taking effect for applications and petitions postmarked on or after October 2, 2020. These changes include modifications to premium processing timelines, new form versions and filing requirements, and fee adjustments for petitions and applications for immigration benefits, including:
Extended Premium Processing Timelines
USCIS currently processes petitions filed with premium processing within 15 calendar days of receipt. Beginning on October 2, USCIS will extend this timeline to 15 business days. This change has the potential to lengthen processing time by at least 4 days. The change follows the implementation of an increased premium processing fee of $1,440 in December 2019.
New Adjustment of Status Costs for Travel and Work Authorization Applications and Increased Application Fees for Children Under 14
At present, the filing fees related to applications for Advance Parole (AP) and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) filed concurrently with applications for Adjustment of Status (AOS) are “bundled” with the base filing fee for the AOS and do not require separate filing fees for initial filing or for renewals. Although the base Form I-485 filing fee is decreasing to $1,130 (including the cost of biometrics), the overall cost of filing an AOS application with interim benefit requests for EAD/AP is increasing significantly. Beginning with applications postmarked on October 2, 2020, AP and EAD applications will require separate filing fees, adding up to $1,140 of new fees when filing for AOS, EAD, and AP concurrently. Additionally, USCIS is eliminating the reduced AOS filing fee for applicants under age 14, requiring that AOS applicants of all ages pay the same $1,130 filing fee for Form I-485. Once the new fee structure is effective, the total cost for an AOS/EAD/AP filing will be $2,270 per applicant. This fee change coincides with the advancement of priority dates for many applicants under the October 2020 Visa Bulletin.
Updated Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
USCIS is releasing updated Forms I-129 that are specific to the requested nonimmigrant category (e.g. H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, TN, O-1, and E-1/E-2/E-3). This change eliminates supplementary forms and consolidates the information requested for each nonimmigrant category. With the new forms, USCIS is implementing a fee structure for based on the new Form I-129 subtypes, listed in the table below.
Updated Filing Fees
As a fee-funded agency, USCIS reviews its fee structure on a biennial basis to ensure that the structure covers operating expenses. Overall, the updated fee structure adjusts USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 20%. It includes the addition of new fees for certain immigration benefit requests and the modification of fees for most application and petition types. Select fees from USCIS’ updated fee schedule are included below:
Select Fees from USCIS Updated Fee Schedule
Effective October 2, 2020
Please contact the author or any Parker Gallini immigration attorney to discuss this or any immigration issues at (781) 810-8990.