United States: USCIS Seeks Immigration Filing Fee Increase
Filing fees for most USCIS petitions and applications would increase by an average of 21 percent if proposed revisions to the agency's fee schedule are implemented. The most substantial increases would be imposed on EB-5 investor and Regional Center filings.
The Department of Homeland Security is proposing increases in the filing fees for many USCIS petitions and applications. The proposed regulation - which is set to be published Wednesday - would raise the fees for most employment-based petitions and applications by an average of 21%, though fee increases for some filings would be significantly higher. According to DHS, the higher fees reflect the current cost of processing immigration applications and petitions; some portion of the increased fees would provide additional funding for refugee and citizenship programs as well as system support for interagency immigration status verification databases.
The filing fee for Form I-129, the nonimmigrant worker petition, would increase to USD 460, from USD 325. The fee for Form I-140, the immigrant worker petition, would increase to USD 700, from USD 580.
Applications under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program would be subject to the most substantial fee increases. Regional Centers applying for designation under the program would pay a filing fee of USD 17,795, up from USD 6,230. They would pay an annual fee of USD 3,035 to certify their continued eligibility for the designation; currently, there is no fee for the annual certification. The fee for the immigrant investor petition would more than double, though the fee for an investor's petition to remove conditions on residence would be unchanged.
The proposed rule would also introduce a three-tiered fee structure for naturalization applicants - a standard filing fee for most applicants, a reduced fee for those whose family income is greater than 150% but less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and no fee for certain applicants in the military and others who qualify for a fee waiver.
DHS is seeking feedback on the proposed fee schedule, and public comments will be accepted for 60 days from its publication on May 5, 2016. Increases to USCIS filing fees would not take effect until the regulation clears the federal approval process, which typically takes several months.
Proposed fees for key employment-based petitions and applications are as follows:
What This Means for Employers
If the proposed fee changes are implemented, employers and foreign nationals would see higher fees for most employment-based petitions and applications for employment authorization and adjustment of status to permanent residence. Employers should take the proposed fee schedule into consideration when budgeting for immigration-related expenses.
If you have any questions about the fee proposal, please contact your designated Fragomen professional.