NIW PREMIUM PROCESSING COMING SOON!

H.R. 8337 passed through the house on September 20th and on September 30th the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 8337. This heavily bipartisan bill was then signed into law by President Trump today (October 1).

The law allows USCIS to provide premium processing for all three Employment Based categories – EB1, EB2 and EB3. The processing fees have not yet been set but the law sets a cap at no more than $2500. The law also sets a deadline of 45 days for USCIS to render a decision.

H.R. 8337 also now provides for an expedite of the Employment Authorization Document. That fee is set a maximum of $1500 and the time limit set to receive a decision from USCIS is no more than 30 days.

As part of the new premium processing the bill instructs USCIS not to allow processing times for non-premium cases to increase.

Now that the Bill has been signed into law we will have to wait for USCIS to implement it. USCIS will need to set premium processing fees and decide on adjudication time limits. Once USCIS establishes the fees and times they will set an implementation date.

USCIS NEW FEES BLOCKED BY FEDERAL INJUNCTION

The USCIS new rule regarding changes in filing fees was blocked by Federal Judge Jeffrey White. While the injunction is in place the old fee schedule must be followed.

The important fee changes for NIW/EB1A and OPR clients are as follows:

I-140 – The fee will remain at $700 and will not be reduced to $555

I-485 – The fee will remain at $1225 for adults which includes the $85 biometric fee, and includes no additional charge for the I-765 or I-131. The fee for children under 14, which was scheduled to increase to $1130 on October 2, will remain at $750 while the injunction is in place.

I-765 – Was set to be a separate fee of $550 on October 2, and was no longer going to be included with the I-485, this will not take effect while the injunction is in place.

I-131 – Was set to be a separate fee of $590, on October 2, and was no longer going to be included with the I-485, this will not take effect while the injunction is in place.

As with every injunction it is expected that the Federal Government will take the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and request that the injunction be lifted. While this may take a little time, there is a good chance that the injunction could be vacated by the Ninth Circuit in the near future.

For those who have an approved I-140 and a current priority or those needing an EAD/AP card soon, we strongly recommend filing the I-485 along with the I-765 and I-131 as soon as possible while the injunction is still in place.

EB1 Priority Dates Move for India and China

The USCIS announced their priority dates for October and the EB1 category jumped significantly. The priority date for both India and China changed from Septembers priority date of March 1, 2018 to Sept. 1, 2020.

The EB2 and EB3 categories also moved.

The EB2 changed from July 8, 2009 to May 15, 2011 for India and changed only slightly for China, moving from January 15, 2016 to October 1, 2016

The EB3 for India made the biggest move changing from October 1, 2009 to January 1, 2015 which is a jump of almost 6 years. The EB3 for China also moved from February 15, 2017 to June 1, 2018.

With the number of I-485 applications we expect to filed this month, we are concerned that the window of opportunity to file an I-485 based on the “Dates For Filing” chart for October 2020 will possibly change and retrogress in November.

If your priority date is now current, we highly recommend filing in October. Late October we will know if the dates are going to continue to progress or if they will retrogress for November 2020.

EB1A and H1B Premium Processing to Resume in June

Starting June 1, USCIS will start resuming premium processing for all eligible Form I-140 petitions.

Starting June 8, USCIS will resume premium processing requests for H1B petitions beginning with premium requests for cap-exempt petitions that are already filed and pending adjudication.

Starting June 15, USCIS “plans” on resuming premium processing for cap-exempt HIB petitions that are filed on or after June 8. It appears that USCIS will determine at a future date when they will begin accepting new H1B cases for premium processing after it has had a chance to determine the number of premium processing requests are made on already pending applications.

Beginning June 22, USCIS “plans” on resuming premium process for all H1B cap-subject petitions.

Given the recent noise being made about possible restrictions being implemented to further limit the availability of H1B visas, it is highly recommended that requests for premium processing be made as soon as possible.

USCIS Offices Reopening June 4, 2020

Interviews and Appointments

USCIS is officially scheduled to reopen its offices on June 4 and USCIS will begin resuming interviews and biometric appointments. USCIS will first send out notices to applicants and petitioners with previously scheduled appointments and interviews.

As USCIS begins to reopen, the number of available appointments and interviews that they are scheduling will be reduced. As such we anticipate that, with prior scheduled interviews taking priority, a slight backlog and delay for newly scheduled interviews can be expected. Appointment notices will contain information on safety precautions that visitors to USCIS facilities must follow.

Guidelines for Entering USCIS Facilities

  • Visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they:
    • Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever or difficulty breathing;
    • Have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or
    • Have been individually directed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider or public health official within the last 14 days.
  • Visitors may not enter the facility more than 15 minutes prior to their appointment (30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies).
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for visitors at entry points. 
  • Members of the public must wear facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose when entering facilities. Visitors may be directed to briefly remove their face covering to confirm identity or take their photograph. There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; visitors should pay close attention to these signs to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Individuals are encouraged to bring their own black or blue ink pens.

More information on visiting USCIS facilities can be found at uscis.gov/visitorpolicy.

Possible Immigration Fee Increase and Surcharge

USCIS announced that it will be seeking funding from Congress to help with a budget deficit it is experiencing as a result of a decrease in filings for immigration benefits. USCIS has indicated that to make up for the additional funding being sought from Congress that they intend to add a 10% surcharge to all USCIS filing fees. USCIS had already announced its intent to increase filing fees back in November. Those fee requests have been under public review and have yet to be implemented. It appears inevitable that those fee increases will be implemented soon. Additionally the likelihood that USCIS will begin charging a 10% surcharge on filing fees is extremely high.

Trump Immigration Executive Order

UPDATE April 22, 2020 President Trump this evening signed an executive order banning the issuance of green cards to foreign nationals who are outside of the country. The order is effective as of 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020. The order excludes persons in the U.S. who are adjusting their status. If you have filed or are filing an adjustment of status, then you are exempt from the ban. The order also does not restrict the filing of NIW, OPR or EB1 petitions. Although the ban targets individuals who are out of the country, the ban excluded those who are seeking to enter through the National Interest or those who are medical professionals or are seeking to perform medical research. Trump indicated that he may modify the order in the future so we will monitor the situation closely and update again if there are any changes. BOTTOM LINE: THE EXECUTIVE ORDER WILL HAVE NO EFFECT ON ANY OF OUR CLIENTS.

Here is a list of the exceptions to the ban:

(i) any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
(ii) any alien seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees; and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old of any such alien who are accompanying or following to join the alien;
(iii) any alien applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
(iv) any alien who is the spouse of a United States citizen;
(v) any alien who is under 21 years old and is the child of a United States citizen, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
(vi) any alien whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;
(vii) any member of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces;
(viii) any alien seeking to enter the United States pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may impose, and any spouse and children of any such individual; or
(ix) any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

UPDATE: April 21, 2020 President Trump walked back the extent of the ban suggested by his prior tweet. President Trump stated in his briefing that the immigration ban would only be for 60 days and would only target green card applications. From what we can tell, the green card applications that he is referring to would be limited to people residing outside of the U.S. We will update again once we learn more.

Late on April 20, 2020, President Trump tweeted, “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”


As of this morning, Whitehouse officials were working on a draft of an executive order, with the expectation that it would be ready for Trump’s signature by the end of the week. Right now, it is just speculation as to what the order will state and what restrictions will be put in place. However, the order is expected to be temporary.


While the executive order is likely to issue a temporary ban on the issuance of new visas, it most likely will not prohibit the submission of new applications within the United States or the processing of NIW, OPR or EB1A petitions. We are continuing to work hard to prepare and file our client’s cases with the USCIS. We are hopeful that the Adjustment of Status cases already on file prior to the executive order will continue to be processed.


We will update this blog as more news becomes available.

Senate Bill 386 Update. December 19, 2019

On December 18, 2019 both Senator Durbin and Senator Lee announced on the Senate floor that they had reached a bipartisan agreement to move S.386/HR1044 forward. While not officially presented yet, the unofficial draft of the proposed legislation as outlined by both Senator Durbin and Senator Lee in their speeches yesterday provides what we see as four very important issues as they relate to employment visas. 1. H1B 50/50 Rule; 2. Adjustment of Status (I-485 applications); 3. Dependent Age Out; and 4. Effective date of the law.

  1. The proposed legislation contains what Senator Durbin referred to as the 50/50 Rule. The 50/50 Rule would severely impact primarily IT workers from India who are working for outsourcing companies. The 50/50 Rule applies to any company that has more than 50 employees, of which more than 50% are on an H1B. The rule will have a significant impact on these companies to both bring new IT workers to the U.S. on H1B visas and to extend the H1B visas of their current employees.
  2. With respect to the effect that the bill will have on I-140 employment based applicants there is both bad news and good news. The bad news is that if the bill is signed into law it will take a considerably longer time for the actual green card to be issued. The good news is an immigrant employee will be able to file an I-485 adjustment of status on the earlier of two dates: 1. Upon approval of the I-140 petition; or 2) after the expiration of 270 days from the time of filing of the petition. Senator Durbin emphasized that he wanted to make sure that qualified immigrant workers would be able to get their Employment Authorization and Advance Parole so they would have the freedom to change jobs and travel while they wait for a green card to become available.
  3. The proposed bill also proposes that because of the delay that will be caused by the implemenation of this bill, dependents of the petitioner will not age out. Currently children of an approved petitioner can age out if a green card is not available before the dependent turns 21. The proposed changes will eliminate age out.
  4. Finally, the bill will no longer be retroactive. The Bill originally had an effective date of September 30, 2019. The effective date will be the date of enactment, the day the President signs it into law or if not signed within 10 days and Congress is in session.

While we believe Senator Durbin has done a tremendous job in helping to alleviate some of the concerns of people hoping to obtain a green card, we feel that the H1B changes will bring a significant amount of pressure to bear on other Senators by the lobby of the IT consultant industry. It is highly probable that the bill will be blocked yet again, before it makes it to the Senate floor for possible unanimous consent. While it is prudent to move forward in a timely manner on your employment based green card applications so as to get your green card as soon as possible, we do not feel that S386 as it stands now will be as devastating for new applicants from countries other than India and China as it was first thought it would.

USCIS Announces Implementation of H1-B Electronic Registration

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it is implementing the registration process in the next H-1B lottery. Employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year 2021 cap, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee.

Employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap will now be required to complete a registration process. USCIS will open an initial registration period from March 1 through March 20, 2020. The H-1B random selection process, if needed, will then be run on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

“By streamlining the H-1B cap selection process with a new electronic registration system, USCIS is creating cost savings and efficiencies for petitioners and the agency, as only those selected will now be required to submit a full petition,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans. “The agency completed a successful pilot testing phase, which included sessions with industry representatives, and implementation of the registration system will further the goal of modernizing USCIS from a paper-based to an online-filing agency.” 

USCIS will post step-by-step instructions on how to complete the registration process on its website along with key dates and timelines. USCIS may determine it is necessary to continue accepting registrations, or open an additional registration period, if it does not receive enough registrations and subsequent petitions projected to reach the numerical allocations.

The $10 H1-B registration fee established under the final rule is effective on Dec. 9, 2019, and will apply to registrations submitted during the initial and future registration periods.

USCIS Proposed New Rule on Fees

The Homeland Security Department today issued a proposed rule titled “U.S. Citizenship and immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements”. The proposed rule is open for comment until December 16, 2019 after which it can be implemented. The good news is that for NIW petitions the fees may actually be reduced. The I-140 will be reduced by $155 to $545 down from $700. The I-485 has a small proposed reduction from $1140 to $1120. However, the cost to file an I-485 for children will increase significantly from $750 to $1120, the same as an adult. The Biometric fee is also being reduced from $85 to $30.

If the proposed rule is put into effect, the USCIS fees for an NIW and an AOS will look like this:

I-140 – $545

I-485 – $1150 (with Biometric) for each individual, adult or child

Below is Table 19 from the Proposed Rule which sets forth all proposed fee changes:

Table 19 depicts the current and proposed USCIS fees for immigration benefit requests and biometric services. For a more detailed description of the basis for the changes described in this table, see Appendix Table 3 in the FY 2019/2020 Fee Review Supporting Documentation accompanying this proposed rule.

Immigration benefit requestCurrent feeProposed feeDelta ($)Percent change
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card$455$415−$40−9%
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document4454904510
I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker460N/AN/AN/A
I-129H1 I-129 H-1B—Named Beneficiaries46056010022
I-129H2A I-129 H-2A—Named Beneficiaries46086040087
I-129H2B I-129 H-2B—Named Beneficiaries46072526558
I-129L Petition for L Nonimmigrant Worker46081535577
I-129O Petition for O Nonimmigrant Worker46071525555
I-129CW, I-129E&TN, and I-129MISCV Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker; Application for Nonimmigrant Worker: E and TN Classification; and Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-3, P, Q, or R Classification.46070524553
I-129H2A I-129 H-2A—Unnamed Beneficiaries460425−35−8
I-129H2B I-129 H-2B—Unnamed Beneficiaries460395−65−14
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)535520−15−3
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative535555204
I-131 Application for Travel Document575585102
I-131 Travel Document for an individual age 16 or older135145107
I-131 I-131 Refugee Travel Document for a child under the age of 161051151010
I-131A Application for Carrier Documentation5751,01043576
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker700545−155−22
I-191 Application for Relief Under Former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)930800−130−14
I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant183 585/9301,415830/485142/52
I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa5852,7902,205377
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal9301,04011012
I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion675705304
I-360 Petition for Amerasian Widow(er) or Special Immigrant435455205
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status184 1,140/7501,120−20/370−2/49
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur3,6754,0153409
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status370400308
I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal05050N/A
I-600/600A Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative/Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition775810355
I-600A/I-600 Supp. 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-600A/I-600N/A405N/AN/A
I-601 Application for Waiver of Ground of Excludability930985556
I-601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver63096033052
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA, as Amended)930525−405−44
I-687 Application for Status as a Temporary Resident under Section 245A of the Immigration and Nationality Act1,1301,13000
I-690 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility715770558
I-694 Notice of Appeal of Decision890725−165−19
I-698 Application to Adjust Status From Temporary to Permanent Resident (Under Section 245A of the INA)1,6701,615−55−3
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence59576016528
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization4104908020
I-800/800A Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative/Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country775810355
I-800A Supp. 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A385405205
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits600590−10−2
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Renewal)0275275N/A
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition465500358
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status3,7503,9001504
I-881 Application for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation of Removal185 285/5701,8001,515/1,230532/216
I-910 Application for Civil Surgeon Designation785650−135−17
I-924 Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program17,79517,79500
I-924A Annual Certification of Regional Center3,0354,4701,43547
I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant2301,5151,285559
I-941 Application for Entrepreneur Parole1,2001,20000
N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention2701,3201,050389
N-336 Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings7001,7551,055151
N-400 Application for Naturalization640/3201,17053083
N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes3551,6001,245266
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document555545−10−2
N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship1,1701,015−155−13
N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 3221,170960−210−18
USCIS Immigrant Fee220200−20−9
G-1041 Genealogy Index Search Request65240175269
G-1041A Genealogy Records Request65385320492
Biometric Services8530−55−65

Below is a link to the Proposed New Rule in its entirety:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/11/14/2019-24366/us-citizenship-and-immigration-servihttps://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/11/14/2019-24366/us-citizenship-and-immigration-services-fee-schedule-and-changes-to-certain-other-immigration

If you have any questions or would like a consult on your NIW case please do not hesitate to contact us.