The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) charges filing fees to access its premium processing services. On December 28, 2023, the agency published a final rule to increase those fees.
Citing the effects of inflation between June 2021 and June 2023, the USCIS explained that the new rates will become effective starting on February 26, 2024. Applicants requiring those services will notice the change on Form I-907: Request for Premium Processing.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at these changes and sharing what the USCIS fee increase means for you.
Understanding the USCIS Stabilization Act
On October 2, 2020, the USCIS Stabilization Act was signed into law. This Act set the current premium processing fees that the USCIS charges for its services. It also gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to adjust those fees on a biennial basis.
Since the inception of the Act three years ago, those rates have remained unchanged. Now, the DHS has increased the fees that the USCIS charges for all eligible forms and categories. These new rates are based on the degree of inflation that took place from June 2021 to 2023, as reported by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.
According to the published rule, the USCIS plans to implement such increases biennially to protect the real dollar value of the premium processing service that it provides.
Reason Behind the Increase
This inflation increase isn’t exactly a surprise. As mentioned, the USCIS Stabilization Act set the agency’s premium processing fees three years ago, with the opportunity and option to increase those rates biennially.
However, you might wonder why the change is happening now, and what the extra money will go to support. Anticipating this inquiry, the USCIS has explained that the DHS will use the new revenue generated by the fee increase to fund the following initiatives:
- Provide premium processing services
- Respond to demands for adjudication
- Make necessary improvements to the adjudication process (e.g. reducing benefit request processing backlogs)
In addition, any leftover money will be used to help fund the USCIS’ general adjudication and naturalization services.
New Rates to Know
What does this mean for you? If you need to use the USCIS premium processing services to assist with any part of your immigration paperwork, you’ll pay more at your time of purchase.
The form to complete for these premium services is Form I-907. With this form, you can request expedited processing for the following other USCIS forms:
- Form I-129: Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
- Form I-140: Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers
- Some classifications of Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization
- Some classifications of Form I-539: Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
Most of the time, paying this fee will ensure that your form is processed within 15 days, though this can vary. The rates required to process each form are not the same, so the increase affects each one a little differently. Let’s take a look at the new prices you can expect to pay for USCIS premium processing services:
- Form I-129: H-2B or R-1 nonimmigrant status: Increased from $1,500 to $1,685
- Form I-129: All other available classifications: Increased from $2,500 to $2,805
- Form I-140: Certain Employment-based (EB) classifications: Increased from $2,500 to $2,805
- Form I-765: Only F-1 students with categories C03A, C03B, C03C: Increased from $1,500 to $1,685
- Form I-539: Only certain classifications: Increased from $1,750 to $1,965
The published update by the USCIS lists all the special classifications that apply to each form. You can only request premium processing for benefits that the USCIS has specifically allocated.
What If I Pay the Wrong Rate?
The new processing fees will go into effect on February 26, 2024. The USCIS expects all individuals requesting its premium processing services to abide by the updated rates. If the agency receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after this date with the former, incorrect filing fee, it will take action.
The USCIS will not only reject the submitted Form I-907, but it will also return the filing fee to the sender. Note that if you send your form via commercial courier (e.g. FedEx, DHL, or UPS), then the USCIS will consider the postmark date to be the date reflected on the courier receipt.
To make sure the USCIS receives and accepts your request for premium processing, remember to not only pay the correct fee but to follow all instructions as outlined on your form. You cannot waive the fee to request this special service and you must pay the fee in addition to (and in a separate remittance from) all other filing fees associated with your paperwork.
Signed into law on October 1, 2020, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (Pub. L. No. 116-159) also gives the USCIS the ability to expand its premium processing services to apply to other forms and benefit requests. However, as of now, the agency has not decided to take that action.
While this rate increase represents the first change that consumers have experienced since the USCIS Stabilization Act became law, it will not be the last. As the law describes, we can anticipate a similar rate hike on a biennial basis moving forward.
Seeking Legal Support
Immigration law can be complex, and a little confusing to follow. If you have any questions about which fee will apply to your application or petition, you can always reach out to our law firm. It’s important to follow the correct structure, as the USCIS will not accept requests that are not accompanied by the appropriate fee.
Navigating the USCIS Fee Increase
At Boyer Law Firm, P.L., our immigration attorneys are well-versed in helping individuals apply to enter the United States through the USCIS. Filing your paperwork correctly, completely, and on time is a critical part of making sure your documents are processed accurately. To do so, you’ll need to stay on top of administrative changes, such as this most recent USCIS fee increase.
If you need assistance understanding or navigating this latest update, let us know. Our lawyers can walk you through the new process and share all the details you need. Contact us today to learn more or ask any questions.