USCIS Announces Fee Increases

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a new fee structure that will take effect on October 2, 2020. The final rule, published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2020, announced that there would be adjustments to filing fees for certain immigration and naturalization benefit requests. The final rule increases certain fees by a weighted average of 20%, adds new fees, removes certain fee exemptions, establishes multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions, and limits the number of beneficiaries for certain forms.

Notable fee adjustments for employers (a full list can be found here) include an H-1B increase from $460 to $555, an L-1 increase from $460 to $805, a Form I-140 decrease from $700 to $555, and an Adjustment of Status (with ancillary benefits including an Employment Authorization Document and Advance Parole) increase from $1,225 total to $2,270 total.

Employers should be on notice regarding the fee adjustments, but should also take note of several key changes made in the final rule for commonly used nonimmigrant visa classifications. In addition to fee increases, USCIS will require employers with a high proportion of H-1B and L-1 employees to pay additional border security fees. Current practice requires employers with more than 50 employees, 50% of whom are in H-1B or L-1 status, to pay an additional $4,000 when petitioning for an initial or change of employer H-1B, or $4,500 for an initial L-1. Under the final rule, affected employers must pay this fee with every extension, in addition to the initial filing.

In addition, the USCIS made a notable change to the Form I-129 for nonimmigrant workers, which the Agency plans to separate into different forms for each visa classification filed under the form. This is in contrast to current practice, which requires an employer to submit the Form I-129 and corresponding supplement for the visa type sought. With the new forms come new and different fees for each classification, which currently all require a $460 fee.

Importantly, the final rule also lengthens the timeline for Premium Processing, from 15 calendar days to 15 business days. Employers should be especially mindful of the longer processing under this added service, as processing times have effectively been extended by a week.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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