Budget Bill Expands “Premium Processing” of Immigration Applications

On October 1, 2020, H.R. 8337, the Continuing Appropriations Act 2021 became law, to fund U.S. governmental operations through the end of 2020.

The bill included language amending the immigration laws to allow for the expansion of “premium processing” of petitions filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Premium processing has enabled employers to pay a premium over and above the regular filing fees, in order to get faster processing of immigration petitions for foreign workers.

The new premium processing law included in the budget bill will increase the premium processing fee to $2500 per petition in many cases, but caps the fee at $1500 for employers seeking speedier processing of petitions for H-2B seasonal non-agricultural employees, and for religious workers.

The law also expands the types of petitions where premium processing can be used, and opens up the door for USCIS to allow for premium processing of any type of immigration petition or application, including immediate family petitions.  Premium processing has to date been limited to employment based petitions.

USCIS has not yet announced when it will begin implementing these changes.  A more detailed explanation of the new law can be found in this analysis in Forbes