Fees for Immigration Services Going Up

U.S. Visa
U.S. Visa | Image by a_Taiga/Getty Images

Work visas and green cards have become more expensive as new fees went into effect at the start of the month.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has not raised fees in more than seven years, and unlike many other government agencies, the majority of its funding comes from filing fees. Congressional appropriations of taxpayer money account for only 4% of its budget, reported KERA News.

Immigration filings fell during the COVID-19 lockdowns, which meant revenue also fell — by as much as 40%.

“The fee schedule from 2016 no longer covers operational costs to timely adjudicate USCIS immigration and naturalization benefits,” USCIS said on its website. “We need higher fees to cover the cost of doing business and better avoid the accumulation of future backlogs.”

Immigration attorneys, as well as businesses that hire foreign workers, have been monitoring the fee hikes, which have been planned for over a year.

“We’re not talking about 1 or 2% increases. When you pair the baseline increases together with that additional new fee that is being leveraged on every new employment-based petition, you’re looking at increases of two and 300%,” said Stephanie Pimentel, partner at BAL, a global immigration law firm, per KERA News.

The H-1B Visa petition fee increased from $460 to $780, a 70% increase, and the registration fee for the H-1B jumped from $10 to $215, an increase of 2,050%.

Among the most significant changes, employers must now pay a one-time asylum program fee of $600 for each Form I-129 (a form that employers use to request non-immigrant visa status for a worker) and I-140 (a form that prospective employers use to petition for foreign workers to work in the United States permanently) that they file.

“This is a new tactic of USCIS as part of their fee regulation is to start having U.S. businesses cover the cost of the asylum program because they have the ability to pay it, which I don’t know if I would agree on all businesses,” said Emily Neumann, an immigration attorney, per KERA news.

Additionally, the cost for a green card application has increased from $1,225 to $1,440 — up more than 17%. Green card applicants must also now pay fees for filing for interim work authorization and for filing for an interim work permit.

According to Statista, in FY 2022, about 1.02 million migrants received permanent residence through green cards.

Click here to see the new fee schedule.

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