House Budget Reconciliation Bill Retains High-Skilled Immigrant Provisions, Would Impose Fee Increases
The House of Representatives’ 2,135-page draft budget reconciliation bill retains several
immigration measures, including provisions paving the way for high-skilled scientists and
engineers, and raising immigration-related fees. It also would provide for up to 10 years of work
authorization and protection from removal for undocumented people who have been in the
The United States since before 2011, $2.8 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to reduce
processing backlogs, and recapturing unused green cards that would otherwise expire each
year. It remains to be seen whether the bill will become law. A vote in the House is expected in
the next few weeks.
Provisions for High-Skilled Immigrants
The bill’s provisions would allow an employee in the backlog of approved legal immigration
applications to pay a supplemental fee of $5,000 and file for adjustment of status without waiting
for a priority date to become available.
Also among the provisions in the bill are several immigration-related fee increases, including a
measure to add a supplemental fee of $500 to existing fees for H-1B petitions, thus further
killing the “cheap labor” myth about why companies hire H-1B workers.
According to a study by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) that considered
overall costs, “employers pay government-imposed fees and attorney costs of up to $16,560 for
an initial H-1B petition and $28,620 for the combined cost of an initial H-1B petition and an
extension.” The new fee would increase the cost further. Mandated H-1B fees primarily fund
scholarships for U.S. students and training for U.S. workers, according to NFAP.
Other immigration-related fees that would be imposed by the House budget reconciliation bill, if
- $100 for certain family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions (Form I-130)
- $800 for each employment-based immigrant visa petition (Form I-140)
- $15,000 for each employment-based fifth preference petition (Form I-526)
- $19 for each Form I-94/I-94W issued to nonimmigrants who enter the United States
- $250 for each F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant student and J-1 exchange visitor to be paid by
the approved educational institution or designated exchange visitor program
- $500 for each application to replace a legal permanent resident card that has expired or
- $500 for each petition for E, H-1B, L, O, or P status (Form I-129)
- $500 for each application to change or extend nonimmigrant status (Form I-539)
- $500 for applications for employment authorization (Form I-765) filed by spouses of
certain nonimmigrants, students seeking optional practical training, and applicants for
adjustment of status
- $75 for each approved nonimmigrant visa 5
• “Build Back Better Act,” H.R. 5376 (House budget reconciliation bill), Nov. 3, 2021,
• Immigration provisions of the budget reconciliation bill,
• Bill section-by-section summary,
• “House Bill Keeps Immigration measures for High-Skilled Immigrants,” Forbes, Nov. 1,
• “New Increase in H-1B Visa Fees Further Shatters ‘Cheap Labor’ Myth,” Forbes, Nov. 1,
• “Employer-Paid H-1B Fees Have Funded Nearly 90,000 College Scholarships;
Companies Have Paid $5 Billion in Government-Mandated Fees to Hire H-1B Visa
Holders Since 1999,” NFAP press release, April 1, 2019, https://nfap.com/wpcontent/uploads/2019/04/H-1B-Visa-Fees.DAY-OF-RELEASE.April-2019-1.pdf
• “NFAP Policy Brief: Employer-Paid H-1B Visa Fees for College Scholarships and Job
Training,” April 2019, https://nfap.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Employer-Paid-H1B-Visa-Fees.NFAP-Policy-Brief.April-2019-2.pdf
USCIS Expands Credit Card Payment Pilot Program to California Service Center
As part of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) credit card payment pilot program, the California Service Center is now accepting credit card payments using Form G1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, for petitioners filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for O and P nonimmigrants. At the end of the pilot, USCIS will evaluate the results and determine the next steps for expanding this payment option for other forms or other service centers. USCIS said the goal of this pilot is “to bring USCIS one step closer to accepting digital payments using a credit card at 7 all service centers.” The program is available at the Nebraska, Texas, and Vermont service centers.
• USCIS alert, Nov. 5, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/uscis-expands-creditcard-payment-pilot-program-to-california-service-center
Major Settlement Changes USCIS’ Work Authorization Policy for Certain H-4, E, and L Nonimmigrant Dependent Spouses
Following recent litigation, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on November 12, 2021, that certain H-4, E, or L dependent spouses will qualify for an automatic extension provided under 8 CFR § 274a.13(d) if certain conditions are met. Accordingly, a document combination to include an unexpired Form I-94, Form I-797C (Notice of Action) showing a timely filed employment authorization document (EAD) renewal application, and facially expired EAD may be acceptable to evidence unexpired work authorization for employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) purposes, USCIS said.
In addition, USCIS will consider E and L dependent spouses to be employment authorized incident to their valid E or L nonimmigrant status, with a few exceptions.
USCIS is also rescinding the 2002 Immigration and Naturalization Service memorandum, “Guidance on Employment Authorization for E and L Nonimmigrant Spouses, and for Determinations on the Requisite Employment Abroad for L Blanket Petition.”
USCIS’ actions followed a settlement in Shergill v. Mayorkas. The settlement provided structural changes for nonimmigrant H-4 and L-2 spouses suffering from long-delayed processing times for work authorization applications. Also as a result of this settlement, as noted above, USCIS will now recognize that L-2 spouses are employment authorized incident to L-2 status. This means that spouses of transferred executives and managers no longer need to apply for work permits before working or starting a business in the United States.
• “Employment Authorization for Certain H-4, E, and L Nonimmigrant Dependent Spouses,” USCIS Policy Alert, Nov. 12, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/policy-manual-updates/20211112- EmploymentAuthorization.pdf • Settlement agreement, Nov. 10, 2021, https://bit.ly/3qzP7Jl
New USCIS Lockbox Facility in Illinois, More Filing Location Changes Planned for 2022
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to open a new lockbox facility in Elgin, Illinois, next year. The agency also has consolidated filing locations for certain employment-based forms to a single lockbox location. In 2022, USCIS plans more filing location changes, including moving the lockbox facility in Arizona from Phoenix to Tempe.
• USCIS alert, Nov. 12, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/uscis-opening-anew-lockbox-facility