Business Immigration Fees To Soar Under USCIS Proposed Rule

Employers will pay significantly higher fees for worker petitions and permanent residency sponsors under proposed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fee rules. The rule has a 60-day comment period, after which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can issue a final rule. Proposed regulations include new fees for businesses and universities to fund U.S. asylum programs. The rule also proposes significantly higher fees for using the H-1B electronic registration system.

Increased employer fees

Under the proposed rule, employers hiring highly skilled aliens would be 70% more likely to be beneficiaries of H-1B petitions, 201% more likely to be employees of L-1 petitions, and 201% more likely to be O- 1 Individuals in petitions will pay 129% more. (H-1B petitions will go from $460 to $780, L-1 petitions will go from $460 to $1,385, and O-1 petitions will go from $460 to $1,055.)

For status adjustments to obtain permanent residency in the United States, Forms I-485 (Adjustment of Status), I-131 (For Advance Parole), and I-765 (Form) for work permit with biometric services. must be submitted. 130% ($1,225 to $2,820). These costs can be doubled if the principal has dependencies. Submitting Forms I-485 and I-131 electronically represents a 77% increase (from $1,225 to $2,170).

Nominated beneficiary fees for H-2A petitions (for farm workers) are 137% (from $460 to $1,090) and H-2B petitions (for seasonal, non-farm workers) are 135% (from $460 to to $1,080). Economists will note that raising the fees for these visa categories goes against the desire of U.S. policymakers to have more workers enter the United States legally.

Immigration petitions by Regional Center investors increased by 204% (from $3,675 to $11,160), and investor petitions to remove the permanent residency requirement increased by 154% (from $3,750 to $9,525).

Another factor in the proposed rule is that premium processing takes time. USCIS will process cases within 15 business days instead of the current 15 business days. calendar days.

Two Big Fee Increases: H-1B Enrollment and Funding the Asylum Program

Employers will also notice two other significant fee increases. First, select “DHS [Department of Homeland Security] Proposing a new asylum program fee of $600 to be paid by employers filing either Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers, or Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Foreign Workers. ”

Dan Berger of Curran, Berger & Kludt confirms that employers may pay this $600 fee multiple times to the same individual. For example, an employer may first file his H-1B petition, an extension of his H-1B status, and then file an employment-based green card immigration petition (I-140). increase.

USCIS/DHS is proposing to increase the H-1B electronic registration fee per beneficiary of an H-1B application to $215, a 2,050% increase from the $10 established in 2019. “DHS understands that a price increase from $10 to $215 may seem prohibitive at first glance,” according to the justification for the proposed rule increase.

Going forward, if H-1B registration numbers remain the same as in 2023, employers would pay a total of about $100 million more annually under the proposed rule, based on analysis from the National Policy Foundation. Become.

USCIS cannot clearly justify the proposed $215 fee. Especially since this system has already been set up and running for years. According to the proposed rule, “USCIS lacks information about the direct costs of H-1B registrations, but estimates the indirect costs of the H-1B registration program using the same methodology it uses to calculate other fees.” rice field”. “The cost-estimating methodology provides similar results to the USCIS immigration fees established as part of the fee rules for the 2010/2011 fiscal year. However, the H-1B registration fee includes fewer activities. , will be funded DHS proposes fees based on activity costs for the following activities: [and] management and supervision. ”

It is unclear what the cost of “bringing to the public” the H-1B electronic registration system will be, other than posting the information on the USCIS website. The cost of “management and monitoring” is also difficult to assess. One thing is clear, in other parts of the rule, USCIS sees it as: less expensive For agencies when forms are submitted electronically (i.e., employers and others pay less when submitted electronically). But a system that was previously entirely paper-based (his completed H-1B petition was mailed to USCIS) is now electronic, and employers pay much higher fees. You are asked to USCIS says on its website, “The electronic registration process has streamlined the process…”

Concern about cost increase

Members of the legal, business, and academic communities share the challenges USCIS faces after years of mounting problems. But there are also concerns about the proposed tariff rules.

“While we understand that USCIS needs to increase fees for benefit applications, the proposed fee rule, from our perspective as USCIS customers, will result in adjudication inefficiencies, outdated technology and processes. It doesn’t seem to solve real problems such as chronic labor shortages and lengthy sentences,” said Dagmar Butte, an immigration attorney at Parker Butte & Lane. Increasing the total fee for the I-485 status adjustment and I-131 advance parole documents filed with your application from $1,225 to $2,820 may not reduce work and travel authorization adjudication times. 7 to 12 months on average.

“If history is any guide, my client, who is a spouse of a U.S. citizen and is awaiting work permit approval from December 1, 2021, has experienced a drastic change in the timing, simply as a result of a fee increase. You wouldn’t expect it to improve.Processing times for these product lines have increased since the last rate increase was implemented.”

The impact of a $600 per job application fee to fund the U.S. asylum program has also raised concerns. “For many colleges and universities, the proposed surcharge, in addition to existing costs and other proposed fee increases, would be very difficult to absorb and would be necessary to teach and conduct important research. It can affect our ability to hire talented faculty and researchers, said Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidential Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

Dagmar Butte points out two other issues. With the proposed rule she adjusted the $2,820 status fee, it could cost her more than $11,000 for her family with two children over the age of 14. “Proposals to charge more for paper filings are also problematic,” she said. “In an ideal world, it would make sense. In a world where there is little transparency about what happens after submission, submitters are hesitant to use electronic methods. Even if USCIS caused the error, consider the consequences. ”

The most featured immigration news story in the past few years has been about how we handle asylum-seeking individuals on the Southwest border. But members of Congress who have been vocal about border issues have failed to adequately fund asylum officials and other elements of the process. As a result, USCIS sought to address the issue by paying a $600 fee for required worker and professional petitions.

In the private sector, consumers pay a price and receive a product or service. The federal government is demanding payment of what his employer won’t get any benefit from paying his $600 fee for a petition to fund the asylum program. USCIS is likely to receive many comments on the proposed higher fees.

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