US visa premium processing fee increase from 1 October 2018

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) increased the I-907 premium processing fee relevant to certain employment-based US visas on October 1 2018. According to a final rule published in the Federal Register on August 31, 2018, the fee was increased from $1,225 to $1,410 and came into effect on October 1.  This is the first increase in about seven years and represents an increase of about fifteen percent compared to the previous fee.  Please note that the old version of the premium processing I-907 form dated 26 June 2018 can be used only until 3 December 2018.

Sanwar Ali workpermit.com comment:

USCIS could have done a better job telling people about the increase.   Even UK Visa and Immigration in the UK email people to tell them about visa fee increases.  The antiquated system for submitting and paying the premium processing fees for L1 visa petitions and other non-immigrant visa fees by check means that if you pay the wrong amount it is not straightforward correcting this mistake.   You have to send a replacement I-907 form together with a replacement check.

It can take months for USCIS to deal with a non-immigrant visa petition.  Therefore probably most employers will pay the voluntary premium processing fee.  

The premium processing service is available for certain employment-based immigration petitions filed using USCIS forms, I-129 and I-140, including US L1 visas and E2 treaty investor visas.

The service allows employers to pay an extra fee to request adjudication – approval, denial or a request for further evidence (RFE) – from the USCIS within 15 calendar days.  Most applicants would have paid the I-907 fee with the original visa petition.

US Immigration and Nationality Act

The fee increase, which is done in accordance with the US Immigration and Nationality Act, represents the percentage change in inflation, 14.92 percent according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), since the last premium processing fee increase back in 2010.

In an effort to justify the fee increase, USCIS’ Chief Financial Officer Joseph Moore said: “Because premium processing fees have not been adjusted since 2010, our ability to improve the adjudications and service processes for all petitioners has been hindered as we’ve experienced significantly higher demand for US immigration benefits.

Ultimately, adjusting the premium processing fee will allow us to continue making necessary investments in staff and technology to administer various immigration benefit requests more effectively and efficiently.”

“USCIS will continue adjudicating all petitions on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet all standards required under applicable law, policies, and regulations,” Moore added.

Premium processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B cap petitions suspended

Currently, premium processing for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 H-1B cap petitions has been suspended until February 19, 2019. 

Meanwhile, the fee increases mean that as of October 1, requesting adjudication of an eligible, employment-based US immigration or non-immigration visa petition became more expensive. Employers are being advised to factor in the new premium processing fee when budgeting for immigration-related expenses.

The suspension of H1B visa premium processing will affect many employers especially those who wish to extend H1B visas.  This comes at a time when employers and employees are being greatly inconvenienced by an increase in Requests for Further Evidence (RFEs) for L1 visa petitions and other employment based visa applications.

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