On Friday, July 31, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration

Services (USCIS) announced an increase in the filing fees for

various application and petition forms the public use to apply for

immigration benefits. Initially proposed in November 2019, the new

USCIS filing fees will go into effect on October 2, 2020, and

broadly constitute a 20% increase over the current USCIS filing

fees. The new USCIS filing fee schedule was published on August 3,

2020 and is available for review on the Federal

Register's website at the following address: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-08-03/pdf/2020-16389.pdf.

This writing will only provide information as to how the new USCIS

filing fee schedule will impact U.S. employers on or after October

2, 2020.

Filing Fee Changes

While most USCIS filing fees for applications and petitions will

increase on October 2, 2020, there are a few filing fees that have

decreased under the new USCIS fee schedule. Here is a list of

filing fee changes for some of the main employment-based petition

and application forms:

Immigration Benefit Request

Current Fee

Final Fee

Change

Percent

Change

Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

(H-1B; H-1B1)

$460.00

$555.00

$95.00

21%

Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker)

(L-1)

$460.00

$805.00

$345.00

75%

Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker)

(TN)

$460.00

$695.00

$235.00

51%

Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker)

(E-1; E-2; or E-3)

$460.00

$695.00

$235.00

51%

Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker)

(H-2B)

$460.00

$715.00

$255.00

55%

Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker)

$700.00

$555.00

-$145.00

-21%

Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust

Status)

$1,140.00

$1,130.00

-$10.00

-1%

Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document)

$575.00

$590.00

$15.00

3%

Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)

$410.00

$550.00

$140.00

34%

Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) –

paper filing

$370.00

$400.00

$30.00

8%

Form I-824 (Application for Action on an Approved Application or

Petition)

$465.00

$495.00

$30.00

6%

Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion)

$675.00

$700.00

$25.00

4%

Biometric Service

$85.00

$30.00

$55.00

-65%

Petition and Application Form Changes

In addition to the increase in the filing fees, the USCIS has

indicated that it will revise some of its petition and application

forms thirty (30) days before the new filing fee schedule takes

effect.1 Two of the forms that

USCIS has indicated will be revised are the following:

  • Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker); and
  • Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).

These new forms must be used when the new filing fees take

effect on October 2, 2020.2

Premium Processing Changes

The new filing fee rule will also change how premium processing

service is provided by the government, as follows:

  • USCIS Premium Processing Service Will Take

    Longer: The final rule increases the timeframe USCIS

    examiners have to adjudicate a petition from 15 calendar days to

    15 business days.

  • USICS Premium Processing Fee May Be Increased

    Annually: The final rule also has a provision that allows

    the USCIS to increase the premium processing filing fee at its

    discretion without the need for review under the rule-making

    process.

New Interpretation by USCIS of PL 113-114 filing fee

The new filing fee rule changes when the PL 113-114 filing fee

is applicable as follows:

  • PL 113-114 Fee to Apply to Initial H-1B and L-1 Filings

    and H-1B and L-1 Extension of Stay Filings: U.S. employers

    that employ 50 or more workers with 50% or more of their workers in

    the U.S. in H-1B or L-1 status are currently required to pay an

    extra filing fee of $4,000.00 (H-1B) or $4,500.00 (L-1) when filing

    an initial H-1B or L-1 petition. The new filing fee rule now

    requires the PL 113-114 filing fee to be paid not only at the time

    of the initial H-1B or L-1 petition filing for the foreign

    national, but now requires this filing fee to be paid when the U.S.

    employer is subsequently extending the status of the foreign

    national. This change in the interpretation of the language

    contained in PL 113-114 by USCIS to now require the PL 113-114

    filling fee to be paid when extending the stay of the foreign

    national is a significant cost increase for U.S. employers that

    rely heavily on the H-1B and L-1 programs. It is anticipated that

    this provision of the final filing fee rule will be challenged

    through some type of litigation.

Conclusion

U.S. employers will likely move forward quickly with petition

and application filings between now and October 2, 2020 to avoid

paying the higher filing fees. U.S. employers that select premium

processing service will also need to plan for longer processing by

USCIS in the future. U.S. employers would want to check the

expiration dates of their workers in H-1B or L-1 status in the

U.S., who expire before March 31, 2020, and file any extension of

stay petitions before October 2, 2020 in order to avoid paying the

additional $4,000.00 (H-1B) or $4,500.00 (L-1) PL 113-114 filing

fee. In addition, with the USCIS recently conducting a second

lottery for H-1B registrations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, because

it did not receive enough H-1B cap petition filings, U.S. employers

who have had their H-1B registrations recently selected in this

second lottery round would want to quickly move forward and file an

H-1B cap petition for the H-1B worker for an October 1, 2020 start

date before the new H-1B filing fee and new Form I-129 petition

form take effect. U.S. employers may also need to budget more money

after October 2, 2020, if interested in sponsoring foreign

nationals for the H-1B and L-1 categories.

Footnotes

2. https://www.aila.org/File/Related/20073100b.pdf

The content of this article is intended to provide a general

guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought

about your specific circumstances.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top