February 1, 2023
On January 4, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a proposed rule that would raise the filing fees required for many applications, specially employment-based applications. The revised fee schedule is only a proposal and will not be in effect until goes through the federal review process, which usually last several months.
USCIS’ budget depends on its receipt of filing fees from immigration applications because a lack of funding from the federal government. As a result, USCIS contends the fee hikes are required to deal with a lack of fee raises since 2016 along with a temporary decrease in the filing of applications during the pandemic. The drops in filings caused a loss of 40% of USCIS expected income.
If the proposed rule becomes effective, USCIS predicts it will obtain an additional $5.2 billion per year during FY2022 and 2023. This sum does not include revenue from premium processing filing fees that will stay $2,500 per application. With these additional monies, USCIS states it would increase staff, cover increased contract costs, maintain, and refresh its technology, improve its customer service, and spend more on its asylum and refugee programs.
In the proposal, there are significant fee increases in employment-based applications which include:
- the H-1B lottery registration fee increased from $10 to $215, which is a 2050% hike;
- the form I-129 non-immigrant petition, which used to be the same fee for all case types increased significantly and is now a different fee depending on the application:
- L-1 intracompany transfer filing fee raised from $460 to $1,385, which is 201% increase;
- H-1B specialty occupation and H-1B1 specialty occupations for Chile and Singapore filing fee increased from $460 to $780, which is a 70% change;
- O extraordinary ability filing fee increased from $460 to $1,055, which is a 129% growth;
- E-1 treaty trader, E-2 treaty investor, E-3 specialty occupations for Australians, TN NAFTA (now USMCA) professionals, H-3 nonimmigrant trainee or special education exchange visitor, P athletes/artists/entertainers, Q cultural exchange, R religious workers filing fee increased from $460 to $1,015, which is a 121% raise;
- H-2B temporary non-agricultural workers filing fee for unnamed beneficiaries increased from $460 to $580, which is a 26% bump;
- H-2B temporary non-agricultural workers filing fee for named beneficiaries increased from $460 to $1,080, which is a 135% addition;
- the form I-140 immigration visa petition increased from $700 to $715, which is a 2% increment;
- the form I-526 & I-526E (Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur/Regional Center Investor) fees increased from $3,675 to $11,160, which is a 204% inflation;
- the form I-829 (Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status) fee increased from $3,835 to $9,525, which is a 148% increase for those requiring biometrics; and
- the I-485 Adjustment of Status (green card application) filed with the I-765 Employment Authorization Document and I-131 Advance Parole (travel authorization) filing fee increasing from $1,225 to $2,820, which is a 130% change.
Other immigration filing fee increases include:
- the green card for a family member I-130 filing fee increased from $535 to $820, which is a 53% growth;
- the fiancé(e) I-129 application filing fee increased from $535 to $720, which is a 34% rise;
- the petition to remove conditions from green card status I-751 filing fee increased from $595 to $1,195, which is a 100% raise;
- the stand-alone Employment Authorization Document I-765 filing fee increased from $410 to $650 for paper filings, which is a 58% inflation;
- the request to change or extend nonimmigrant status (without biometrics) I-539 filing fee increased from $370 to $620 for paper filings, which is a 67% elevation;
- the I-90 application to replace permanent resident fee increased from $455 to $465, which is a 2% augmentation; and
- the application for naturalization N-400 increased from $640 to $760 for paper and online filings, which a 19% hike.
The proposed rule would encourage online filings by lowering the filing fee by $10 to $100 for some online applicants. This incentive would help USCIS’ at least decade old commitment to electronic filings. However, only a small percentage of cases allow online filings, and USCIS has long way to go to implement online filings across the board.
The proposed rule would also include the currently separate biometrics fees into the main filing fee. While this would provide an administrative relief for applicants, it also guarantees USCIS a receipt of funds for biometrics services it often waives applicants from completing. In other cases, the proposed rule would re-implement administrative and financial obligations on applicants by requiring additional filing fees for I-765 (employment authorization) and I-131 (travel authorization) applications accompanying an I-485 (adjustment of status/green card) application.
Finally, the proposed rule would also affect USCIS processing time of applications. If the proposed rule is implemented, USCIS would increase the time it has to process applications filed under the premium processing program from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.
Again, the proposed rule does not have an immediate impact on filing fees. USCIS is accepting public comments on its proposals through March 6, 2023.
This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Chase for any case- or company-specific assessments.