USCIS Issues Proposed Rule with Significant Employment Visa Rate Hikes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued a proposed rule that calls for significant fee hikes, particularly concerning foreign workers. Although USCIS hasn’t updated its fees since 2016, the fee increases, if the agency finalizes them as planned, will shift much of its ongoing costs to employers. This shift could have a substantial impact on the ability of small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions that routinely hire foreign nationals on H-1B specialty visas or sponsor workers for green cards.

USCIS calls the fee hikes necessary to deal with increased traffic at the southern border, where 2,000 more officers are needed to process and speed up the asylum application process. The Biden administration also announced that it would continue using Title 42 to expel some individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. It would also admit 30,000 people monthly from these nations through a humanitarian parole program. The fee increases would help support USCIS’s humanitarian mission and allow the agency to fully recover its operating costs for the first time in six years.

However, the proposed 200% increase in H-1B visa petition fees is likely to decrease the use of the premium processing option that already exists for these petitions. In addition, employers can pay an extra $2,500 fee for fast-tracking their petitions, which guarantees that USCIS will process them in 15 days.

Likewise, language in the proposed rule would encourage those filing petitions to use the electronic filing system. Those filing paper applications would encounter even higher fees, ostensibly because of the lack of efficiency in processing non-electronic submissions.

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