Oxford Languages defines it as the “general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money,” and we know that as soon as you read those words, you can already think of items in your everyday life that are suddenly costing way too much.
Milk, gas, houses…the list goes on.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, USCIS can't escape inflation either.
In one of its latest notices, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that on February 26, 2024 the fees for premium processing will be increased to adjust for inflation.
Will This Affect Me?
Not every case is eligible for premium processing, and even sometimes when a case is eligible, a client will choose regular processing because of how expensive premium processing can be. But it is important to note that premium processing for the following forms and statuses are affected by this fee increase change:
Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker:
The previous fee for H-2B or R-1 premium processing was $1,500 USD and it will now be $1,685.
The previous fee for all other I-129 classifications was $2,500 USD and will now be $2,805.
Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker:
Employment based premium processing for classifications E11, E12, E21 (non-NIW), E31, E32, EW3, E13 and E21 (NIW) was previously set at $2,500 USD and will now be $2,805.
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status:
For 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 premium processing was previously $1,750 USD, and will now be $1,965.
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization:
Certain F-1 students with categories C03A, C03B, and C03C can apply for premium processing to receive their employment authorization, and were paying $1,500 USD for that service, but will now have to pay $1,685.
How Soon Will the Fee Increase Take Effect?
USCIS will increase its premium processing fees on February 26, 2024. This means that if you want to take advantage of the current premium processing fees before they change, your Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, will need to be postmarked no later than February 25, 2024.
Does Premium Processing Make a Difference?
We hate to say it, but sometimes money pays.
If your case is eligible and you choose to pay for premium processing, USCIS guarantees that it will take adjudicative action on the case within the following time periods, or it will refund your premium processing fee:
15 calendar days for most classifications;
30 calendar days for Form I-765 for F-1 students seeking OPT or STEM OPT extensions;
30 calendar days for Form I-539 applicants requesting a change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status, once all prerequisites, including receipt of biometrics, have been met;
45 calendar days for Form I-140 E13 multinational executive and manager and Form I-140 E21 national interest waiver classifications.
Sometimes premium processing isn't worth it. For example, the average processing time for an H-2B based Form I-129 at the California Service Center is currently listed as one week. But in contrast, the current average processing time for Form I-539 applicants is 4 months, and those extra three months can mean a world of difference for some applicants.
It's best to consult with an immigration attorney about whether your immigration petition is eligible for premium processing and if that is the right decision for your case.
If you have questions about premium processing or applying for an immigration petition please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.