USCIS Issues Final Rule Significantly Raising Many Visa and Immigration Fees

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USCIS Issues Final Rule Significantly Raising Many Visa and Immigration Fees

Effective April 1, 2024 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase fees employers must pay to file many petitions for nonimmigrant workers and sponsor employees for permanent residence.

USCIS, the benefits branch of the various immigration agencies, is primarily a user-funded organization: 96% of its funding comes from filing fees; generally 4% comes from appropriations, although Congress occasionally passes bills providing supplemental funding. USCIS states that the fee increases are necessary as the agency has not increased fees since December 2016. The new fees are estimated to result in an additional $1.14 billion in revenue to the agency, which USCIS indicates will help them cover costs and reduce backlogs. The majority of the burden of the fee increases will fall on U.S. employers.

KEY CHANGES EFFECTIVE APRIL 1, 2024

  1. A different fee schedule will apply to nonprofits and small employers.  An employer which employs fewer than 25 full-time employees, inclusive of all related corporate entities, will qualify as a small employer.
  2. Significant fee increases: For most employers, the base H-1B filing fee will increase 70% from $460 to $780.  The base L-1A/B filing fee will increase 201% from $460 to $1305. The O-1A/B filing fee will increase 129% from $460 to $1055.
  3. Most employers must pay an “Asylum Program Fee” of $600 for every Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (for example, H-1B); and every Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (for example, based on an approved labor certification).   The Asylum Program Fee is $0 for nonprofits; $300 for small employers with 25 or fewer employees; and $600 for all others filing Forms I–129 and I-140.   The I-129 and I-140 filings are completely unrelated to asylum matters. Forcing unrelated employers to fund asylum processing is very contentious and is likely to become the subject of litigation.
  4. The above means the USCIS filing fees for a first-time H-1B beneficiary will total $3380:$780 base filing fee + $500 fee earmarked for fraud prevention + $1500 fee earmarked for scholarship and training of U.S. workers + $600 Asylum Program Fee. The addition of a premium processing request will add $2805, bringing the total filing fees for an H-1B to $6185. 
  5. Under the new rule premium processing will guarantee a response within 15 business days, rather than 15 calendar days for most case types. Similarly, the timeframe for I-140 immigrant petitions in the National Interest Waiver and Multinational Manager categories will increase from 45 calendar days to 45 business days.
  6. Currently EAD and Advance Parole applications filed concurrently with an I-485 do not require an additional filing fee. Effective April 1 filing fees of $260 and $630, respectively, will be required. This is in addition to the I-485 filing fee of $1440.

EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 26, 2024

The premium processing fee will increase from $2500 to $2805 for most premium-eligible case types, including I-129s and I-140s.  In short, the fee increases 12% on February 26, and on April 1 the guaranteed service response time decreases by 33%.

EFFECTIVE MARCH 2025

The H-1B registration fee remains $10 for the upcoming H-1B lottery season. The H-1B registration window will open at 9:00AM Pacific on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 and close at 9:00 AM Pacific on Friday, March 22, 2024. The registration fee increase to $215 was included with the rule effective April 1, 2024. However in practice the new fee will not be required until the FY2026 H-1B lottery season; that is, for H-1B registrations which take place in March 2025.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

CHART OF COMMON FILING TYPES

Type of Filing Current Fee(s) Final Fee(s) Current vs. Final Fees
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (online filing) (with biometric services) $540 $415 -$125 -23%
I-129 H-1B $460 $780 $320 70%
I-129 H-1B (small employers and nonprofits) $460 $460 $0 0%
I-129 Petition for L-1 Nonimmigrant workers $460 $1,385 $925 201%
I-129 Petition for L Nonimmigrant workers (small employers and nonprofits) $460 $695 $235 51%
I-129 Petition for O-1 Nonimmigrant workers $460 $1,055 $595 129%
I-129 Petition for O Nonimmigrant workers (small employers and nonprofits) $460 $530 $70 15%
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (online filing) $535 $625 $90 17%
I-131 Application for Travel Document (with biometric services) $660 $630 -$30 -5%
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers $700 $715 $15 2%
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (with biometric services) $1,225 $1,440 $215 18%
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (under the age of 14 in certain conditions) $750 $950 $200 27%
I-526/526E Immigrant Petition (Investor Visa) by Standalone/Regional Center $3,675 $11,160 $7,485 204%
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (paper filing) $370 $470 $100 27%
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (paper filing) (with biometric services) $455 $470 $15 3%
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (paper filing) (with biometric services) $495 $520 $25 5%
N-400 Application for Naturalization (online filing) (with biometric services) $725 $710 -$15 -2%
H-1B Registration Process Fee **applicable to March 2025 registrations $10 $215 $205 2,050%

This update was prepared by Fausta M. Albi, Partner, Larrabee Albi Coker LLP.

Legal Disclaimer:  This e-blast is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for legal advice based on the circumstances of a specific matter. Immigration laws and policies change frequently, often without notice. It is therefore important to seek direct legal counsel based upon individual circumstances. 

 

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