USCIS Proposed Huge Fee Increases

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 petitions

Stuart 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.


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.


BREAKING: District Court Enjoins USCIS New Fee Rule

Today the US District Court for the Northern District of California enjoined DHS and USCIS from putting their new Fee rule into effect on October 2, 2020. The Court agreed with the plaintiffs that it was more likely than not that they would succeed plaintiffs their case showing that the acting Directors of DHS and USCIS lacked the authority to make new regulations or rules as they have never been confirmed by Congress.

The court made this a nationwide ruling – meaning that USCIS cannot put the new rule in place anywhere in the US. According to the Court because it was likely that they could show that the Acting Directors lacked the power, a nationwide injunction.

While the Government can still appeal to the Court of Appeals and/or the Supreme Court, at least for now, the new rule cannot go into effect.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

USCIS Publishes Final Rule on Fee Increase

It is official now:  As of December 23, 2016 USCIS applications fees will be rising an average of about 21%.  For those interested, all the new fees are listed on the USCIS web page here. In terms of the most common applications, I am listing the old fee and new fees below:

Petition Type Old Fee NEW Fee
I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card $365 $455
I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker $325 $460
I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) $340 $535
I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative $420 $535
I-131, Application for Travel Document $360 $575
I-485 (adult), Application to Adjust Status (not including $85 biometric fee) $985 $1140
I-485 (under 14), Application to Adjust Status $635 $750
I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur $1500 $3675
I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence $505 $595
I-765, Application for Employment Authorization $380 $410
N-400, Application for Naturalization (not including $85 biometric fee) $595 $640
N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship (biological child/adopted child) $1170 $600/550

As you can see, the amount of the increases for most applications is not that great, however, it does vary from application to application.  The I-129 fee went up by 41% while the I-765 fee went up by under 8%.

However, it should be noted that the fee charged for premium processing was not raised during this round of fee increases.  Very surprising given that it would be an easy target, and would bring in significant revenue considering the lengthening timelines for adjudication.  USCIS may be assuming that timelines will decrease because of the extra money from other fees, so they kept the premium fee reasonable so that they would still get sufficient income from that source as opposed to pricing it out of reach of most people.

Please note again that the fees do not go into effect until December 23, 2016.  Any application sent that will be received by USCIS ON OR AFTER THAT DATE should contain the new fees.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

USCIS Proposes Increases to Filing Fees

Unknown.jpegUSCIS has proposed a new fee structure – raising certain fees, keeping certain fees at their current level, and even lowering some fees.  As part of its bi-annual review, USCIS determined that what it was receiving in user fees was insufficient to allow it to continue its current operations (USCIS receives very little from the general budget (and what it does get is for special projects) and is almost entirely funded by user fees).

The proposed increases that we feel are of importance are as follows:




I-90 – Replace PR Card



I-129 – Nonimmigrant Worker



I-130 – Relative Petition



I-131 – Re-entry Permit



I-140 – Employment based Green Card Application



I-290B – Appeal



I-485 – AOS



I-539 – Extend/Change Status



I-751 – Remove Conditions



I-765 – Work Authorization



N-400 –  Naturalization



N-600 – Cert. Of Citizenship



It should be noted that the above do not include the biometrics fee of $85 (which will remain the same) where needed.  In addition to the above, the USCIS Immigration Fee (paid when you enter the US on an Immigration Visa) is being raised from $165 to $220.

USCIS does do its best to keep its fees down on most of the important applications.  The application fees that were raised the most are those related to the Alien Entrepreneur Visa.  The I-526, Application for Alien Entrepreneur went from $1500 to $3675 and the I924 Application for Regional Center Designation went from $6230 to $17,795.  There is a sixty day comment period after which USCIS will publish the final rule with a date for implementation of the new fees.  We will, of course, update you when that happens.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.