U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a proposed rule in the Federal Register earlier this month that would enable the agency to significantly increase many immigration filing fees. The USCIS fee increase affects most forms, making it more expensive to request many employment-based benefits. Individuals have until March 6, 2023, to submit comments on the proposed regulation.
The proposed immigration fee increases range from just 2% to a whopping 2050%, with the average at approximately 40%. Given the financial burden on immigrant families and the additional cost for businesses, the proposed increase is being met with opposition from all sides.
USCIS justifies these higher fee proposals to “more fully recover its operating costs, reestablish and maintain timely case processing, and prevent the accumulation of future case backlogs.” USCIS further explains the additional fees will help to offset the increased cost of accommodating the incoming asylum population.
USCIS proposes to fund the asylum program with additional employer petition fees, in which they propose a $600 fee to be shouldered by employers who file either a Form I-129 or Form I-140. This fee, which is in addition to an increase in the filing fee for each Form, will be used to shift costs of the asylum program away from asylum filers and onto the backs of U.S. employers. USCIS anticipates there will be over 708,500 employment-based petitions that would be subject to this fee increase, which would cover all but about $800,000 of the average FY 2022 and FY 2023 asylum processing costs.
For interim benefits such as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Advanced Parole (AP) for pending I-485’s, those that have filed the I-485 after July 30, 2007, but before the implementation of this regulation, will not have to pay additional fees.
Regarding the H-1B registration fee, USCIS proposes to significantly increase the fee from $10 currently to a proposed $215 per registration, an increase of 2050%. It is important to note that based on the expected timelines of this regulation, there is currently no expectation that the increased fee will come into effect for the FY 2024 (calendar year 2023) H-1B registration period.
While Premium Processing is not part of the increase, USCIS is proposing to change the processing time for premium processing from 15 calendar days to 15 business days, which would essentially add about a week to premium processing.
As noted above, the proposed regulation has a 60-day comment period. The link to how to submit comments can be found here. In general, USCIS must respond to the comments, so it is important that if you have a comment about the proposed fees, you do so according to the website instructions, and not just on social media.
The St. Louis employment law attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters, including employment-based immigration, for over sixty years, and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation or issue. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.