It appears that the Trump administration plans to increase immigration fees for many business applications by 50%. It also will increase the fees paid by workers to become citizens or gain permanent residency. This increase in fees could hit businesses hard.
In November of 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule. This rule called for an increase in fees for key business immigration categories. It amounts to, essentially, an increased tax on businesses that use foreign workers. Undermining the argument that an immigrant workforce takes jobs away from Americans is the fact that job openings in the U.S. outnumber the unemployed.
The increase in fees will likely not decrease the slow processing times that many have experienced lately. The rules specifically state that factors that are affecting processing times will not be changed. The average USCIS processing time has increased by 91% between 2014 and 2018. This is even in light of the fact that the number of cases overall has decreased. Factors such as the requirement for in-person interviews and the issuing of more Requests for Evidence have contributed to the delay.
The fees for L visas will go from $460 to $815, an increase of 77%. The fee for an H1-B petition will rise from $460 to $560, an increase of 22%. Much higher fees could be imposed on companies with more than 50 employees who have more than 50% of their employees on H1-B and L-1 status. The rule proposes reinterpreting the law to require a $4,000 fee, not just on initial H1-B petitions and a $4,500 fee on initial L-1 petitions.
The fees for O and P visas will also increase under the new rule. For O visas, the fee will go up from $460 to $715, a 55% increase. For P visas, the fees will go up 53% to $705 from $460. In addition, while the fee for premium processing will remain the same, the time frame will be 15 business days instead of 15 calendar days. This means it will take longer for employers to receive a response on their petitions, even after paying the $1440 premium processing fee.
It is believed that a final rule on the fee increases will be published in the first few months of 2020. Businesses are not pleased with the proposed fee increase. The rule is clearly aimed at admitting fewer immigrants despite the country’s demand for labor and an increased need for highly-skilled workers.
If you are a business looking to bring highly skilled workers to the United States, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, Inc., we have the experience and the knowledge to guide you through the application process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.