In a move reflective of the agency’s current approach to rulemaking and policy changes, US Citizenship and Immigration Services has provided less than one business day’s notice that it is almost doubling the popular “premium processing” fee that allows US employers to receive decisions on their petitions to sponsor foreign workers in a matter of days, instead of waiting the many months these petitions currently take to be processed at USCIS without the premium fee.

On October 16, 2020, USCIS announced it would increase its filing fee for “premium processing” of I-129 and I-140 petitions by close to 75 percent: from $1,440 to $2,500 ($1,500 for H-2B and R-1 petitions).

Moreover, USCIS released the new fee requirement on the afternoon of Friday, October 16, and made it effective as of Monday, October 19, 2020, less than one business day’s notice. Any I‑129 or I-140 petition that is postmarked on or after Monday, October 19, will be rejected and returned to the employer if it does not include the new fee.

The last time USCIS increased the premium processing fee was in December 2019, when the fee went up from $1,410 to $1,440 – only a 2 percent increase – and the agency provided advance notice of more than a month. The time before that was in August 2018: a 15 percent increase, again with a month’s notice to employers and stakeholders.

The increase was authorized under the federal government’s 2021 continuing appropriations act.