H.R. 8098 the “Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act”, which passed the House late last month, would expand U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) authorization to establish and collect premium processing fees for certain immigration categories. While the bill does not directly impact EB-5 applicants, it is worth noting that if enacted it should provide USCIS increased revenue that in turn would make the agency more apt to respond to and make improvements on immigration processing.
On August 25, USCIS confirmed that the agency would be able to avert the planned furlough of 13,400 employees or nearly 70% of its workforce which had originally been scheduled to begin on August 30. We were glad to see that the agency averted the furlough of a large portion of its workforce and we hope with continued efforts and improved operational efficiencies the agency will be able to make the improvements required to ensure immigration backlogs are reduced and the adjudication process is improved.
At this time Senate leaders haven’t indicated whether they plan to take up the bill.
The fees that would be collected could only be used to:
- provide the services described in paragraph (5) to premium processing requestors;
- make infrastructure improvements in adjudications processes and the provision of information and services to immigration and naturalization benefit requestors;
- respond to adjudication demands, including by reducing the number of pending immigration and naturalization benefit requests; and
- otherwise offset the cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services.
The bill would allow USCIS to collect premium processing fees for the following types of immigration petitions:
- employment-based nonimmigrant petitions and associated applications for dependents of the beneficiaries of such petitions;
- Employment-based immigrant petitions filed by or on behalf of aliens described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of section 203(b);
- applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status;
- applications for employment authorization; and
- any other immigration benefit type that the Secretary deems appropriate for premium processing.
Earlier this year, in advance of the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship will host a hearing titled “Oversight of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services” IIUSA submitted a data report for the official record. The report provided a quantitative review of USCIS revenue collection from filing fees based on case filing and adjudication volumes in the first half of the fiscal year 2020 and compares those levels with previous years.