Earlier this month USCIS issued a proposed rule increasing prices of filing fees for an assortment of employment-based and other applications. Before discussing the actual increases, it is essential to remember that, as of now, this is a PROPOSED rule, not a final rule. There will be a 60-day comment period, and then USCIS will have to review and process comments and then issue a final rule. All this means that any increases will not be effective until probably around July or August this year (maybe in June).
While I cannot go through all the increases, I think some examples will be helpful. First, for employer-sponsored applications: the H-1B application fee will increase from $460 to $780, while the L-1A application fee will increase to $1385 and the O-1 cost to $1085; In addition, the H-1B registration fee will increase from $10 to $215; Lastly, there will be a new “asylum” fee for all I-129 and I-140 filings of $600.
According to an article by SHRM
Under the proposed rule, employers hiring high-skilled foreign nationals will pay 70 percent more for beneficiaries on H-1B petitions, 201 percent more for employees on L-1 petitions and 129 percent more for individuals on O-1 petitionsStuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, a public-policy research organization based in Arlington, Va
In terms of individual filings: The combined fee for the I-485, I-765, and I-131 will rise from $1225 to $2820, and, in addition, you will have to repay the I-765 and I-131 fee to renew those applications.
While it is clear that USCIS needs additional funding, the last fee increases were in 2016, almost 8 years ago, and the current increases pretty out of line with previous increases. For example, the increases in 2016 raised by approximately 21% (weighted average across all applications) – the currently proposed increases will raise fees by 40% (again, as a weighted average). Not only will this hurt individuals applying for benefits, especially those with large families (imagine a family of 4 applying for adjustment of status (and for work and travel permission) spending $11,280 in USCIS fees alone – that is cost prohibitive for many families, it will also hurt businesses and could affect broader economy.
If employers decide it is not worth the expense to sponsor immigrants or cut back on sponsorships, that will, again, hurt those individuals. However, considering we are already in a time of employee shortages, and many companies are already understaffed, especially in white-collar jobs, it could affect our economy, could make it take longer to come out of recession if we do go into one, and affect the ability of companies to compete, forcing more to move overseas.
In an article from SHRM, a talent acquisition company, they state
Experts believe that the proposal could be a barrier to employers in need of foreign labor while failing to address the root inefficiencies in visa processing, which continue to worsen.SHRM
We are hoping that USCIS moderates the fee increases and that, perhaps, Congress will get together and perhaps agree to allocate money to USCIS to help alleviate some of their issues as opposed to them having to get all their fees via user fees.
We will update you as this rule progresses through the process.