H4 Extension and H4 EAD Premium Processing Bill passed.

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The Senate today passed a USCIS premium processing bill duly signed by the President, which turned out to a welcome step for many who waited for approval of EAD expedite requests from USCIS officers. 

The bill explicitly specifies the premium processing fees with new options for H4, L2 dependents, including H4 EAD and L2 EAD applicants. 

Please read this entire article to understand all the aspects of the recently passed HR8337 bill and how it works in your favor. 

What is HR 8337 Bill?

The HR 8337 Bill is aimed at providing government appropriation to prevents the shutdown of all the federal agencies until Dec 11, 2020, with an extension of several other programs. The bill was already introduced in the house a few weeks ago but was passed by the US Senate today, dated Oct 1, 2020. As per US regulation for any bill to become law has to seek approval from the house and Senate followed by the President’s signature. The bill later became law after it was signed by President Trump yesterday late in the night. 

The bill indicates the “Emergency Stopgap Measure” to stabilize the federal agencies by increasing their premium processing revenue. It also has a provision for expanding premium processing to H1B, L1 dependents, EAD applicants, also a general change of status.

With the ongoing COVId-19 pandemic the nearly the services are at forestall resulting in a financial crunch among the agencies so much that USCIS has to furlough 13,355 (or 67%) of its 19,881 employees. The bill may be a solution to end these furloughs by increasing the revenue of these agencies. 

Let us understand each provision of the bill individually to get a better understanding. 

Provisions of HR 8337 Bill 

1. USCIS Premium Processing for H4, L2 and EAD

The major provision made in the bill is the availability of premium processing to the new applicants. The premium processing will now be available for –

  • H1B and L1 dependents – Premium processing for H4 and L2 Visa holders and Employment-based non-immigration petitions. This means that H4 and L2 visa holders can file I-539 applications for change of status and extension under premium processing.
  • EAD applications – The premium processing will be extended for EAD applicants. This will help people who file for H4 EAD but had to wait for a long time due to processing delays.
  • Change of Status applications – The premium processing will now be applicable for people who apply for CoS from F1 to H4 or H1B to H4. 
  • Employment-based green card applications – The premium processing for EB1, EB2, and EB3, including EB-1C Multinational manager and executives and EB2 national interest waivers (NIW), will be made applicable. 

2. USCIS Premium Processing fees

uscis premium processing

The second provision of the bill talks about an increase in premium processing fees

The individuals seeking employment-based immigrations can currently expedite the premium processing (15 days processing) by paying an additional fee of $1440, which is optional. 

With the new provision in the bill, the processing fees have now be increased to $2500 from the previous fees of $1440.  

The revised charges will be relevant to all the eligible applications for premium processing except H2B and religious workers, as they will pay $1500. 

3. Limit of Processing fee and time

A limit of premium processing fees to USCIS is stated in the bill along with the processing time. 

  •  EB-1C (multinational executives and managers) – The maximum processing fee will be $2500 with the processing time of 45 days. 
  • Change of Status to F, J, and M –  The maximum fee applicable for processing will be $1750 and will be the processing time not exceeding more than 30 days
  • The extension or change of status to E, H, L, O, P, or R – The processing fees for this should not exceed any more than $1750, and the processing should be completed within 30 days.
  • EADs (H4 and L2 EAD) – The premium processing will cost $1500 with the processing time of no more than 30 days.

4. Biometric Appointment 

Most of you might be aware of the Biometric Appointment for the I-539 form. The bill clearly states that the above-mentioned premium processing will not be commenced until the pre-requisites for the application, such as biometrics, fees, documents, aren’t completed. 

It simply means for the required processing within 30 days; one must undergo all the major pre-requisites. 

The more details might be laid for premium processing of H4, L2 extensions as biometric appointment remains the major hurdle. 

Other Provisions 

  1. Biennial Adjustment – The secretary will adjust the premium processing fees on a Biennial basis based on CPI (Consumer Price Index) preceding the date on which the adjustment has been made. 
  1. The fees collected under the revised structure will provide services to premium processing requestors, making infrastructure improvements to ease the adjudications process, providing adjudication and naturalization services with reducing backlogs. 
  1. The bill also provides stability to premium processing applicants as their request is only suspended if the circumstances prevent the completion of processing with stipulated processing time. It will also be ensured that premium processors have direct and reliable access to current status information and access to communicate with all the processing units in USCIS offices directly. 
  1. It will be ensured that the availability of premium processing, or its expansion to additional immigration benefits, does not result in increased processing times for immigration benefit requests not designated for premium processing or an increase in regular processing of immigration benefit requests so designated.
  1. USICS should submit a report within 180 days of enactment of this Act, indicating the 5-year plan with the cost estimates, procurement strategies to accomplish electronic filing, accept electronic payments.

The bill is additionally going to benefit both premium and non-premium applicants with increased revenue for USCIS. This will help premium applicants get more reliable and expedite services with the fee collected is used to improve the adjudication process and backlogs for non-premium applicants. The announcement shall be made soon by the USCIS regarding the expanded premium processing service. As the bill is passed in the Senate on Oct-1,2020, we expect to hear the announcement in a couple of days. Until then, Stay tuned.  

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