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Employers Beware: New Immigration Fees are Coming Soon

On July 31, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the final version of a fee rule initially proposed in November 2019.  Under the new rule, which goes into effect on October 2, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will change the filing fees for the vast majority of employment-based petitions and applications filed with that agency.

Below is a summary of the fee changes for the more common petitions and applications filed by U.S. employers and their foreign employees:

*For companies with more than 50 employees that have at least 50% of their workforce in H-1B and/or L-1 status, USCIS has reinterpreted the current law to apply an additional fee ($4,000 for H-1B petitions, and $4,500 for L-1 petitions) not just for initial petitions, but for most extension petitions as well.

**While the filing fee for form I-485 will decrease by $10, it is worth noting that applicants will now see separate fees for the interim benefits of employment authorization (I-765) and travel authorization (I-131). Currently those fees are included with the I-485 filing fee.

Under the new rule, the premium processing adjudicating time will go from within 15 calendar days to within 15 business days (allowing up to four additional days for adjudication).

The USCIS, which is funded almost entirely by filing fees, has been the subject of much criticism lately, and it now faces the threat of furloughing up to 75% of its workforce unless Congress provides the $1.2 billion bailout it is requesting. While the Final Rule specifically states that it does not provide for the transfer of Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA) funds collected by USCIS to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) efforts, the current financial strains of the agency is attributed in part to the fact that USCIS has transferred hundreds of millions of dollars in application and petition fees to ICE for, among other purposes, the hiring of hundreds of ICE enforcement officers. For this reason, immigration advocates are urging Congress to hold USCIS accountable before authorizing any bailout funds to the agency.

For further information on fee changes, feel free to contact the immigration team at Nilan Johnson Lewis.

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