Under proposed USCIS fee rules, employers would pay higher fees to petition workers and sponsor them for permanent residence. The rule has a 60-day comment period before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can issue a final rule. The proposed regulations include new fees for businesses and universities to fund the U.S. asylum program. The rule also proposes a substantial increase in fees for using the H-1B electronic registration system.
Increased employer fees
Under the proposed rule, employers who hire highly skilled aliens would pay 70% more for H-1B beneficiaries, 201% more for L-1 employees and 129% more for O-1 individuals. (H-1B petitions increased from $460 to $780, L-1 petitions increased from $460 to $1,385, and O-1 petitions increased from $460 to $1,055.)
For adjustment of status to obtain permanent residence in the United States, filing of Forms I-485 (Adjustment of Status), I-131 (Advance Parole), and I-765 Work Authorization (paper) and biometric services will increase by 130% (from 1,225 US$ to US$2,820). These costs can be multiplied if the settlor has dependents. Electronic filing of Forms I-485 and I-131 will increase by 77% (from $1,225 to $2,170).
Designated beneficiary fees will increase by 137% (from $460 to $1,090) for H-2A petitions (agricultural workers) and by 135% (from $460 to $1,080 for H-2B petitions (seasonal, nonagricultural workers) ). Economists will note that increasing the fees for these visa categories would run counter to the desire of U.S. policymakers to allow more workers to enter the country legally.
Immigrant applications by regional center investors will increase 204 percent (from $3,675 to $11,160), while investor applications to remove conditions on permanent residence status will increase 154 percent (from $3,750 to $9,525).
Another element of the proposed rule is that expedited processing will take longer: USCIS will process cases within 15 business days instead of the current 15 calendar sky.
Two Notable Fee Increases: H-1B Registration and Funding the Asylum Program
Employers will also notice two other notable fee increases.First, the Department of Homeland Security [Department of Homeland Security] Proposes to pay a $600 new shelter program fee to employers who file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. “
Dan Berger of Curran, Berger & Kludt confirmed that employers may pay the $600 more than once for the same person. For example, an employer may file an initial H-1B petition, an extension of H-1B status, and then file an immigrant petition (I-140) to obtain an employment-based green card.
USCIS/DHS is proposing to increase the H-1B electronic registration fee for each beneficiary of an H-1B petition to $215 from the $10 established in 2019, an increase of 2,050%. “DHS understands that at first glance, an increase from $10 to $215 may seem excessive,” according to the rationale for the proposed rule increase.
If H-1B enrollments remain in line with FY 2023 over the next few years, employers will co-pay about $100 million annually under the proposed rules, according to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy.
USCIS has not very clearly justified the proposed $215 fee, especially since the system has been up and running for years. “USCIS lacks information on the direct costs of H-1B registration, but USCIS estimates the indirect costs of the H-1B registration program using the same methodology it calculates other fees,” according to the proposed rule. “The method of estimating the cost provides results similar to USCIS immigration fees, which were part of the FY 2010/2011 fee rules. However, the H-1B registration fee covered and funded fewer activities. DHS based activity costs on the following activities Proposed Fees: Inform the Public [and] management and supervision. “
It’s unclear what the cost of “informing the public” of the H-1B electronic registration system will be, beyond posting the information on the USCIS website. The cost of “management and oversight” is also difficult to assess.One thing is clear: Elsewhere in the rules, USCIS treats it as not that expensive For agencies when forms are filed electronically (i.e., employers and others pay less when they file electronically). However, what used to be an entirely paper-based system — mailing completed H-1B petitions to USCIS — is now electronic, and employers are required to pay higher fees. USCIS states on its website that “the electronic registration process simplifies the process…”
Concerns About Increased Costs
Members of the legal, business and university communities expressed sympathy for the challenges facing USCIS after years of accumulated problems. However, there have also been concerns about the proposed fee rules.
“While I understand that USCIS needs to increase fees for benefit applications, the proposed fee rule does not appear to address the real problems, which from our perspective as USCIS customers are adjudication inefficiencies, outdated technology and processes, and chronic understaffing and lengthy rulings,” said Dagmar Butte, an immigration attorney at Parker Butte and Lane. “For example, increasing the combined fee for the I-485 Adjustment of Status filed at the same time as the I-765 Employment Authorization Petition and the I-131 Advance Parole Document from $1,225 to $2,820 is unlikely to reduce the adjudication time for work and travel authorizations that currently averages It takes 7 to 12 months.
“If history is any guide, my client, a spouse of a US citizen, who has been waiting for work permit approval since December 1, 2021, may not see much improvement in time due to the fee increase. During the last fee increase After implementation, the processing time for these product lines has increased.”
The impact of a $600 fee per employment application to fund the US asylum program has also drawn attention. “The proposed additional costs, on top of existing costs and other proposed fee increases, may be difficult for many colleges and universities to absorb and could affect their ability to hire the talented faculty and researchers they need to teach and conduct critical research capabilities,” said Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the President’s Coalition on Higher Education and Immigration.
Dagmar Butte pointed to two other problems: A $2,820 adjustment to the status fee in the proposed rule could cost families with two children over the age of 14 more than $11,000. “There are also problems with the proposal to charge more for paper applications,” she said. “In an ideal world, this would make sense. But in a world where USCIS routinely loses parts of applications, there is no reliable method for uploading supporting documents, and there is little transparency about what happens after clicking the “submit” button, applicants have Hesitating to use electronic methods considering the consequences, even if USCIS made an error.”
The most reported immigration news story of the past few years has been about how individuals seeking asylum at the Southwest border are being handled. Yet lawmakers, who have been outspoken on border issues, have failed to adequately fund asylum officials and other elements of the process. So USCIS is trying to solve this problem by charging workers and professionals who need it a $600 petition fee.
In the private sector, consumers pay a price and receive a product or service. The federal government requires employers to pay a $600 fee to fund applications for the asylum program, for which they receive no benefit. USCIS is likely to receive many comments about the proposed higher fees.