A regulation that will increase U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services filing fees, change premium processing time frames and require petitioners to use new versions of commonly used forms is set to take effect Monday, April 1.

Key Points:

  • Base fee increases. Immigration filing fees will increase significantly. For example, the fee for an H-1B petition will increase from $460 to $780 and will be applied to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 1, including FY 2025 cap filings.
  • Asylum program fees. In addition to base fee increases, a new $600 asylum program fee will be charged for each Form I-129 and Form I-140 filing.
  • Reduced fee levels for some employers. The asylum fee is reduced to $300 for small employers (25 or fewer employees) and exempted for nonprofit organizations. USCIS clarified last week that nonprofit educational institutions qualify for this exemption. Small employers and nonprofits, including nonprofit educational institutions, also qualify for lower based fees.
  • Premium processing. USCIS will change premium processing time frames from calendar days to business days. Under a separate regulation that took effect in February, USCIS increased premium processing fees to account for inflation.
  • New forms. Under the new rule, USCIS will require applicants and petitioners to use new versions of several forms, including the:
  • No grace period. USCIS often provides a grace period when publishing new forms but will not do so in this case. Beginning April 1, applicants and petitioners must use the 04/01/24 edition of these forms and include the appropriate fee. The agency will use the postmarked date to determine the applicable form version and fee. Preview versions of the new forms are available on the USCIS website (click the links above).
  • Litigation. Last week, groups representing employers and visa applicants sued the Department of Homeland Security, saying the agency did not follow proper steps in developing the fee rule. As of now, however, the fee regulation is still set to take effect April 1.

BAL Analysis: The fee regulation will substantially increase costs and change filing procedures for employers. The change to premium processing time frames will prolong adjudications in some cases. While litigants are hoping to halt the fee rule, it is still set to take effect on April 1. BAL will provide additional information as it becomes available.

BAL has shared several resources related to the fee rule, including a USCIS fee calculator and analysis of how the increases will affect small- and medium-sized companies. The BAL Government Strategies team provided detailed information on the fee rule and changes to the H-1B program in a webinar last month. The webinar is available on-demand here.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group.

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