An Increase to the Premium Processing Fee

Premium Processing Fee Set to Increase

The premium processing fee will increase on October 1, 2018 by roughly 15% to reflect inflation in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Department of Homeland Security announced its final rule on August 31, raising the fee by $185 from its current $1225 to $1410. (Specifically, the adjusted fee would be $1408, but DHS rounds to the nearest $5 increment).

The Immigration and Nationality Act initially set the premium processing fee at $1000, a fee paid in addition to the base filing fee to expedite certain employment-based immigration benefit requests. However, the act specified that the Secretary of Homeland Security could adjust the fee according to the CPI, which measures the year-over-year change in financial burden born by urban consumers to purchase a certain set of goods called the “market basket.”

According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the CPI roughly captures the price inflation that about 93% of US consumers experience. Since 2010, when the fee was last adjusted, there has been a 14.92% in the CPI. That is, prices have risen about 15% since 2010. Similarly, this also reflects the burden faced by employers to pay employees wages that can meet the higher prices, one place where this fee increase will specifically help USCIS according to the announcement.

Use of the Higher Premium Processing Fee

USCIS plans to use the higher fee to improve the infrastructure in the adjudication and customer-service processes. As we had discussed earlier, premium processing has been suspended for employment-based petitions. USCIS suspended premium processing, so officers who were working on premium processing petitions could review instead long-pending non-premium petitions. Likewise, it needed officers to review extension petitions before the employment authorizations of those petitions lapsed.

USCIS will hire additional staff with the premium processing fees to provide these services with less disruption. Furthermore, it will invest in technology systems to help in its adjudication and customer service processes. Hopefully, this will address the issues caused at USCIS by the large influx of incoming petitions and the increase in premium processing requests.

For More Information

Read the Federal Register Vol. 83 No. 170 wherein DHS announced the fee increase.

This blog post does not serve as legal advice and does not establish any client-attorney privilege. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our legal team directly.

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This information comes from the Federal Register Vol. 83 No. 170, August 31, 2018 and from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA Doc. No. 18083100).

Categories: Immigration News