U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended the public comment period for a proposed regulation that would increase immigration-related fees, and has reduced the amount the agency proposes to recover for immigration enforcement activities, according to a Federal Register notice published Monday.

Key takeaways:

  • The comment period will be extended until Dec. 30, 2019.
  • The agency now expects to recover about $112 million for immigration enforcement, instead of $207 million projected in the proposed rule. As a result, the USCIS fee levels will be lower than originally proposed. For example, an H-1B petition filing fee would increase by somewhere between 16% and 22%, and an L-1 petition fee would increase by 73% to 77%. The Federal Register notice published this week does not include exact updated fee amounts.

Background: USCIS published the proposed regulation last month with a public comment period ending Dec. 16. In addition to increasing immigration fees overall, filing fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions would be specific to the visa classification. Currently, Form I-129 and the $460 filing fee covers all nonimmigrant work visa categories. The proposed rule also contains a host of other changes, including new fees for companies that rely heavily on H-1B and L-1 workers, and lengthening the premium processing time to 15 business days instead of 15 calendar days.

BAL Analysis: Following the comment period, USCIS is required to review all comments before issuing a final rule. The regulation is expected to have a 60-day delayed effective date. Though the USCIS fee increases in the final rule may be lower than originally projected, companies should still budget for significantly higher government filing fees in most employment-based categories. BAL is continuing to monitor the progress of this proposal and will provide updates as more information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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