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USCIS Announces Fee Hike for Premium Processing Fee for Forms I-129 and I-140

By September 11, 2018No Comments

On August 31, 2018, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it was adjusting the premium processing fee for both Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. The premium processing fee is currently $1,225. On October 1, 2018, this fee will increase to $1,410. This is a 14.92 percent increase from the current fee.

The USCIS is almost entirely funded by fees paid by applicants/petitioners for immigration benefits. In fact, USCIS is the only agency within the Department of Homeland Security that is not funded by taxpayer dollars. USCIS’s collected fees are deposited into the Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA) and are then used to fund the cost of processing immigration benefit requests. Over the years the USCIS has frequently misspent this money, including wasting billions of dollars on a failed modernization program in the 2000s.

Pursuant to the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, 31 U.S.C. 901-03, (CFO Act), and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-25, USCIS reviews the fees deposited into the IEFA every two years. If necessary, USCIS then proposes adjustments to ensure recovery of costs necessary to meet national security, customer service, and adjudicative processing goals, even if the “service” provided by the USCIS has literally been worthy of a “Razzie” for the last two years, with extended processing times, and baseless and extra-regulatory requests for evidence.

The fee hike for the premium processing fee was made in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act. The 14.92 percent fee hike represents the percentage change in inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, since this fee was last increased in 2010. According to USCIS Chief Financial Officer Joseph Moore, “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.” This would be true, except the USCIS just cut off premium processing for its most commonly used application, the H-1B, costing itself, assuredly hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue it will never make up. 

What is premium processing? Premium processing is an optional service available for certain petitioners filing Forms I-129 or I-140. The premium processing system allows certain petitioners who pay the extra premium processing fee to request 15-day expedited processing of certain employment-based immigration requests. Keep in mind that the premium processing fee is an extra fee that needs to be paid on top of the base filing fee and any other applicable fee.  It is, for many people, simply an extortion fee, begging for faster service, while USCIS slows the process times down if you don’t pay it.

While this fee hike for premium processing may seem like minutiae, it is indicative of a much larger issue—filing an application or petition with USICS is a highly detailed, often overwhelming process. Failure to follow all instructions to a T, may cause a delay or rejection of the application.

Here at the immigration law firm of Kuck | Baxter Immigration Partners, we are intimately familiar with all the details surrounding your immigration application and paperwork. We can make sure your application is correctly completed and submitted the first time around, helping alleviate the stress of poor or even self-representation.

To schedule your initial consultation with one of our immigration lawyers, contact us using our website’s online contact form to learn more or you can reach us at:

Kuck | Baxter Immigration Partners LLC
365 Northridge Road
Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30350
Tel: (404) 816-8611

Kuck | Baxter Immigration Partners LLC
367 Prince Avenue #3
Suite K
Athens, GA 30606
Tel: (404) 816-8611

Charles Kuck

Managing Partner