The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that at least paused, for now, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plan to implement fee increases and new forms, which were originally scheduled to go into effect on October 2, 2020. USCIS has acknowledged the injunction, although Deputy Director of Policy Joseph Edlow called it “an unfortunate decision that leaves USCIS underfunded by millions of dollars each business day the fee rule is enjoined.”
The planned changes include increasing O visa fees from $460 to $705 and P visa fees from $460 to $695. For now, when filing for O and P guest artist visas, musicians should continue to file with the $460 filing fee, advises Liana White, executive director of the AFM Canadian Office.
The USCIS website for Form I-129 states that the department will accept USCIS forms with the current editions and current fees, and it will use the regulations and guidance currently in place to adjudicate applications and petitions. AFM’s immigration administrators are continually monitoring USCIS communications for the latest information before completing and submitting a visa petition, White says.
In other USCIS fee news, the signed legislation that ensures the US government is funded through December 11, 2020 included a section that authorizes USCIS to increase and expand the Premium Processing Service (PPS) fees for certain immigration-related applications. In most cases, the current $1,440 fee for premium processing is now authorized to increase to $2,500 and the O and P guest artist visas would fall into this category. The fee change went into effect on October 19.
The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish and collect a premium fee for “any other immigration benefit type that the secretary deems appropriate for premium processing,” and premium fees may be adjusted every two years.
The bill directs the secretary to develop processes that do not result in an increase in processing times for immigration benefit requests not designated for premium processing or an increase in regular processing of immigration benefit requests so designated.