February 01, 2024
USCIS Publishes Rule Regarding Fee Adjustments
On January 30, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule regarding fee changes. New fees and the final rule will go into effect on April 1, 2024. USCIS claims the extra funds will be used to match the agency’s capacity with projected workloads to reduce future backlogs. A table with the new fees can be found at USCIS’s FAQs page, here: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/filing-fees/frequently-asked-questions-on-the-uscis-fee-rule
Here are some highlights that will affect the majority of employment-based immigration petitions and filings:
- Form I-129 fees have been separated by requested visa category. In the past all petitions filed on Form I-129 (H-1B, L, O, P, TN, etc.) had one base filing fee and there were separate fees for different categories (such as the ACWIA fee and Fraud Prevention and Detection fee for H-1B petitions). However, now each visa category will have a different base fee in addition to other fees associated with the filing.
- The cap registration fee which had initially been set at $10, will increase to $215, but not until next year. Because the new rule does not go into effect until April 1, 2024, the registration fee for the upcoming registration period in March 2024 for the FY 2025 H-1B Cap will continue to be $10.
- The Asylum Program Fee is a new $600 fee that will be assessed on all I-129 and I-140 petitions. There are a few exceptions to this rule. If a petitioning company is non-profit as defined by the internal revenue service, then it is exempt from paying this fee. Also, if the company is a small business of 25 or fewer employees, then it is only required to pay $300. These exceptions follow the exceptions for the ACWIA fee, if a company is normally exempt from the ACWIA fee or pays half of the fee, the same will apply to the Asylum Program Fee.
- The ACWIA fee and Fraud Prevention fee are still required to be filed with I-129 H-1B petitions, in addition to the Asylum Program Fee.
- Small employers and nonprofits typically have a lower base filing fee as well.
- In most cases where a biometrics fee was required, it is now included in the fee, so there is no need to provide a separate biometrics fee except in a few limited situations.
- In the past, the adjustment of status (“green card”) I-485 application filing fee was bundled with the I-765 (“work permit”) and I-131 (“travel permit”) under one fee. Applicants will now need to include separate fees for each application. The I-485 filing fee is $1,440. The I-765 is half the regular fee at $260. Applicants will need to submit the full fee of $630 for the I-131. The fee for an I-485 Adjustment of Status application for children under 14 who file concurrently with a parent is $950. DHS has determined that unbundling the forms will assist USCIS in making processing times more efficient by eliminating Forms I-765 filed for individuals who do not need employment authorization or Forms I-131 for individuals who have no intention of traveling outside the United States.
- The premium processing timeframe has officially changed from calendar days to business days. USCIS says the extra days are for USCIS benefit but should not affect most petitions if timely filed with all appropriate evidence. The Form I-907 premium processing fee will increase on February 26, from $2500 to $2805 for requests for premium processing of Forms I-129 and I-140.
- Where a form is available to be filed online, the fee is generally $50 less to file online than to file by paper.
- Fee waiver criteria remain the same from the 2011 Fee Waiver Policy and the new rule codifies the 2011 Fee Waiver Policy.
- Fee exemptions are expanding for humanitarian-based immigration benefit requests such as T, U, VAWA, NACARA, SIJs, I-131 for refugees, etc.
Should you have a specific question about how this rule will affect you or your employees, please contact our office at 623-536-5750 to be connected with an attorney.