For the first time since 2016, USCIS has introduced certain fee adjustments that will go into effect April 1st, 2024. As an employer, it is important to know how the imminent changes will affect your business moving forward.
Why is there a fee increase?
With the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services being almost entirely fee-funded, staffing shortages and high volumes of petitions create a climate of backlog. The benefit of fee increases is that any congressional funding can go toward what will provide more efficiency in processing. Thus, the increases will cover both the adjudication unit cost in addition to overhead expenses, such as staffing, to combat slow processing times.
USCIS Asylum Program Fee
Employers who file Forms I-129, I-129CW, and/or Form I-140 will be subject to the new Asylum Program Fee. This fee is designed to finance the expenses related to Asylum adjudication and processing. Previously, the Asylum costs were covered primarily by a combination of multiple USCIS fees. However, with the recent spike in asylum applications and a growing backlog, the introduction of a separate fee became necessary. In response to public outcry, though, the final rule provides relief of the Asylum Program Fee for small businesses who have 25 or fewer full-time employees and non-profits. The fee is waived for non-profits, while small businesses are only obligated to pay 50% of the fee.
Form I-129 USCIS Fees
Come April 1, there will be many fee adjustments to Form I-129 across the board. USCIS will begin basing the fee on I-129 classification. Similar to the Asylum Fee, small businesses and non-profits will receive relief from the increase, only paying 50% of the new fee. Small businesses and non-profits filing Form I-129 for an H-1B will see no change in the I-129 filing fee. Refer to the above I-129 Fee Comparison Chart for a breakdown of each classification.
*H-1B Registration Fees will not be affected for this year’s H-1B lottery but will increase to $215 for the next fiscal year.
Employers opting to file online, when applicable, will receive a $50 discount from USCIS. This incentive seeks to move the public toward online-filing and promote prompt responses moving into the future of US immigration. The online filing discount is a USCIS discount only.
Adjustments for Premium Processing have updated to better process incoming applications. Beginning February 26, 2024, the new Premium Processing fee will take effect. For H-2B and R-1, the new filing fee will be $1,685. All other available I-129 classifications will be $2,805. Form I-140 will be raised to $2,805 as well. Employers and employees should also adjust their Premium Processing timeline from 2 weeks to 3 weeks, as USCIS has shifted from counting by calendar days to business days.
USCIS strives to make the immigration process more inclusive and manageable for all individuals, families, an employees seeking to call the United States their home. As these adjustments take effect, staying informed and understanding your options is key to navigating the immigration journey successfully. If you have any inquiries not directly discussed here, do not hesitate to reach out to your paralegal or schedule a meeting with our attorney to help you and your business navigate the new USCIS fee landscape. For more information regarding all fee increases, visit the FAQ page on USCIS’s website.