Asylum Fee Program: What is it?

USCIS has introduced a fee rule that will impact employers who file either Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker; Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker; or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

The fee is meant to help fund the asylum program. In order to alleviate the fees associated with the asylum program, there have been a range of fee increases that will impact other types of petitions. As an explanation for the fee program, USCIS stated that “all the work at USCIS is connected – when we have a more fully funded corps of asylum officers, our non-asylum officers can concentrate more exclusively on adjudicating cases from employers and other filers, bringing down processing times for everyone.” This means that in order to decrease the overall processing times for all petitions, a fee increase was created to create more resources for asylum officers to handle their cases, which will assist non-asylum officers to utilize more effort into processing cases from employers and other type of filers in a more efficient manner.

The Asylum Program Fee is meant to be paid by employers who file the forms mentioned previously. The new fee is $600 for employers who have a business with more than 25 employees and $300 for employers with a business of 25 or fewer employees, and must be paid by the employer, as the new fee rule will follow the existing limitations that’s in place to provide guidelines on what beneficiaries are meant to pay for certain petitioner-related expenses. Self-petitioners would pay a reduced Asylum Program Fee of $300 when filing Form I-140 as an EB-1A noncitizen of extraordinary ability or as an EB-2 with national interest waiver. When an individual beneficiary of a Form I-129 or Form I-140 petition is part or sole owner of the petitioning entity, then the Asylum Program Fee depends on the petitioning entity’s number of employees and nonprofit status, as is the case for any petitioning entity. Nonprofits do not pay the fee.

For every Form I-129 filed for the same employee, whether it’s an initial application, extension, or a change of employer, the employer will have to pay the Asylum Program Fee for each Form I-129.

The fee may be paid by check or money order, or online by credit card. If you pay by check or money order, the Asylum Program Fee should be paid separately. If paid online by credit card, you can use one credit card form for all of the fees to be paid, including the Asylum Program Fee. There is not a separate form or paperwork that must be submitted when paying the Asylum Program Fee.

If there are any questions regarding how employers should move forward with the filing fee, or if the petitioning employer qualifies for a discounted Asylum Program Fee, schedule a call with one our attorneys for a discussion.

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