Travel Trade Journal

Biden administra­tion proposes massive hike in immigratio­n fees including H-1B visas

The applicatio­n fees for employment-based visas, such as H1-B and L, are set to increase under a proposed US Citizenshi­p and Immigratio­n Services (USCIS) rule.

- About the Author: Prabuddha Sen is the COO (South Asia) at VFS Global. Team TTJ

As per reports, the Biden administra­tion has proposed a massive hike in immigratio­n fees, including the much sought-after H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers, which is very popular among Indian tech profession­als.

Under the proposed rule, published by the USCIS, the applicatio­n for the H-1B visa increases from $460 to $780, and L-1 from $460 to $1,385. The applicatio­n fee for O-1 visas has been proposed to increase from $460 to $1,055. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupation­s that require theoretica­l or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

In its federal notificati­on, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that USCIS is primarily funded by fees charged to applicants and petitioner­s for immigratio­n and naturalisa­tion benefit requests. These fee collection­s fund the cost of fairly and efficientl­y adjudicati­ng immigratio­n benefit requests, including those provided without charge to refugees, asylum, and certain other applicants or petitioner­s, it argued.

The proposed rule went on a 60-day public opposition period, following which it is expected to be enforced. Under the proposed rule, the fee for the H-2B petitions (for seasonal, non-agricultur­al workers) is proposed to increase from $460 to $1,080.

The USCIS said the new fees would allow the immigratio­n agency to more fully recover its operating costs, re-establish and maintain timely case processing, and prevent the accumulati­on of future case backlogs. The agency receives approximat­ely 96 per cent of its funding from filing fees, not from congressio­nal appropriat­ions.

The proposed fee rule is the result of a comprehens­ive fee review at the USCIS. That review determined that the agency’s current fees, which have remained unchanged since 2016, fall far short of recovering the full cost of agency operations.

“This proposed rule allows the USCIS to more fully recover operating costs for the first time in six years and will support the administra­tion’s effort to rebuild the legal immigratio­n system. In addition to improving customer service operations and managing the incoming workload, the USCIS must continue to fulfil our growing humanitari­an mission, upholding fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve,” said Ur M. Jaddou, Director, USCIS.

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