USCIS Proposes New Fee Increases
On January 4, 2023, USCIS published a proposed rule to increase fees for most immigration benefit requests. If implemented, employers will pay significantly more for most nonimmigrant and immigrant filings. The fee increase projects to boost revenues by over $4.5 billion providing USCIS with the much-needed resources the agency claims are necessary to “improve service levels.” The USCIS is funded mainly by these user filing fees, as opposed to appropriations, which fund other agencies like the Department of Labor (DOL). The rule is subject to a 60-day comment period closing on March 6, 2023. Some of the highlights are below:
- Fees for cap H-1B registration would increase from $10 to $215 per registration.
- USCIS seeks to collect additional fees from the employer community to help fund the asylum and humanitarian relief programs. Every I-129 and I-140 petition would require a separate $600 Asylum Program Fee payment. This fee would apply to all initial petitions, changes of status, and extensions of stay that use Form I-129. This $600 fee would be in addition to the separate Form I-129 and I-140 filing fee increases.
- Premium processing service would change from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.
- Adjustment of Status (AOS) applications would no longer have one bundled fee for the I-485, I-131 (Advance Parole), and I-765 (EAD) applications. The total fees for a bundled AOS application (including the I-485, I-131, and I-765) would increase from $1,225 to $2,820. USCIS would also eliminate the reduced AOS fee for individuals under 14 years of age.
- Individuals with a pending AOS application would need to pay the I-765 and I-131 filing fees with USCIS when renewing Advance Parole or Employment Authorization.
- Filing fees for H-1B petitions would increase from $460 to $780
- Filing fees for L-1 petitions would increase from $460 to $1,385
- Filing fees for E or TN petitions would increase from $460 to $1,015
- Filing fees for I-140 immigrant visa petitions would increase from $700 to $715
- Filing fees for online applications would be lower than paper-based applications.
- N-400 application fees would increase from $640 to $760.
These changes would take numerous months to implement, if they are to come through at all without litigation. Therefore, they will not be in effect for this upcoming H1B season.
USCIS Expands Premium Processing
USCIS is implementing the final phase of the premium processing expansion for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, under the EB-1 and EB-2 classifications.
Unlike previous phases of the expansion, this phase applies to new (initial) petitions, in addition to all previously filed Form I-140 petitions under an E13 multinational executive and manager classification or E21 classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW).
Beginning Jan. 30, 2023, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests for:
- All pending E13 multinational executive and manager petitions and E21 NIW petitions; and
- All initial E13 multinational executive and manager petitions and E21 NIW petitions.
In March, USCIS will expand premium processing to certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 students seeking STEM OPT extensions who have a pending Form I-765. In April, it will expand premium processing to F-1 students seeking OPT and F-1 students seeking STEM OPT extensions who are filing an initial Form I-765. USCIS will announce specific dates for each group in February.
USCIS notes that it will continue working toward premium processing availability of Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. It anticipates expanding premium processing for certain student and exchange visitors with pending Form I-539 applications in May and certain student and exchange visitors who are filing initial Form I-539 applications in June.