An overhaul of immigration processing fees, including those covering temporary and permanent work visas, will go into effect April 1.
The revamped fees will hike the cost for most employment-based petitions and applications, with most of the increases shouldered by visa petitioners, according to the final rule published Jan. 31 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
USCIS is almost entirely funded by user payments, but the agency’s fees haven’t been updated since 2016. A 2020 Trump administration fee increase was blocked by a federal district court judge.
“For the first time in over seven years, USCIS is updating our fees to better meet the needs of our agency, enabling us to provide more timely decisions to those we serve,” said USCIS Director Ur Jaddou. “Despite years of inadequate funding, the USCIS workforce has made great strides in customer service, backlog reduction, implementing new processes and programs, and upholding fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve."
[SHRM Online article: “USCIS Modifies H-1B Lottery to Prevent Employer Fraud”]
Trade groups, businesses and members of the public submitted 5,400 comments on the fee proposal after it was released in January 2023, according to USCIS. Much of that feedback highlighted the potential negative impacts of the sharp increases in immigration costs.
USCIS is proposing different fees for different visa classifications. The current base fee of $460 covers all temporary-worker visa petitions using Form I-129, used by employers to petition for guest workers under H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, L-1, O-1 and TN visa classifications.
The filing fees in the final rule remained the same as in the proposed rule, except for exemptions for nonprofits and small employers, defined as having 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. Fees in those instances have been reduced from the proposal. The increased fees for nonexempt employers will be:
- H-1B visas—$780.
- L-1 visas—$1,385.
- O-1 visas— $1,055.
- TN visas—$1,015.
- H-2A visas—up to $1,090.
- H-2B visas—up to $1,080.
The H-1B registration fee for 2024 will remain $10, with the new $215 registration fee charged to prospective employers during the March 2025 registration period.
In addition to the filing fee increases, USCIS is introducing a new $600 asylum program fee to be paid by employers sponsoring temporary workers or workers for permanent residence visas. The fee would apply each time an employer used Form I-129 for an initial petition, change of status or extension of stay. This additional fee is intended to be used to help fund the administration of the asylum program.
In the final rule, USCIS exempted this fee for nonprofit petitioners and reduced it to $300 for small employers.
The increases will come on top of the increased premium processing fees that will go into effect Feb. 26. In addition, premium processing will be extended from 15 calendar days to 15 business days, a change that will prolong premium processing by one week or more, depending on the case type.
SHRM submitted public comment on the proposal, stating that USCIS should explore more efficient ways to improve services and save costs instead of raising filing fees so drastically.