Proposed Changes to US Visa Fees in 2024
Planned increases in filing costs, among other fee-related changes, across multiple immigration application categories are expected to take effect in 2024.
Employment-based petitions in particular will see the highest increases in filing fees, while some humanitarian routes are to decrease or remain the same.
How soon will any fee increases take effect?
Initially published for consultation in the Federal Register on January 4, 2023, the proposed changes have moved several steps closer to becoming law in recent weeks.
According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) last week completed its USCIS Final Fee Rule review, and the final rule, containing the proposed increases in fees, was received by OIRA on January 8, 2024.
The publication of the final rule is expected to be fast-tracked with the increased immigration fees potentially being in effect by April 2024, according to USCIS’ most recent regulatory agenda.
What are the proposed changes?
The notice of proposed rulemaking, published in the Federal Register on January 4, 2023, advised the following upcoming changes affecting many immigration benefit petitioners and applicants:
- Different fees for the various nonimmigrant classifications filed using Form I-129
- Increased premium processing timeframe from 15 calendar days to 15 business days
- ‘Unbundling’ of certain filing fees
The proposed rule stated that the current USCIS fee schedule came into effect more than six years ago, in December 2016 and that fee uplifts are necessary to improve processing times and provide adequate service: “If DHS does not adjust USCIS fees it will not have the resources it needs to provide adequate service to applicants and petitioners or be able to keep pace with incoming benefit request workload, and USCIS processing times and backlogs will not improve. DHS intends for this rulemaking to provide the funding required for USCIS to improve service levels.”
The proposals included:
- Removal of the uniform $460 Form I-129 filing fee, to be replaced with different fees for different classifications, including:
- H-1B fee increase to $780, from $460
- L-1 petition fee up to $1,385, from $460
- E and TN petitions to increase to $1,015, from $460
- H1B cap registration fee to increase to $215, up from $10, to reflect the costs of administering the program
- Introduction of a new $600 “Asylum Program Fee” payable by all petitioners filing Form I-129 nonimmigrant petitions and Form I-140 immigrant visa petitions, which the agency states will be used to fund part of the asylum program.
- Form I-140 immigrant visa petitions to increase to $715, up from $700
- US naturalization fee to increase by $35 up to $760, which includes the biometric services fee
- Separate fees to be introduced in a phased basis for Form I-485 adjustment of status applications and its ancillary benefits of employment authorization (Form I-765) and advance parole (I-131) for applications filed concurrently
- Premium processing adjudication period to be increased from 15 calendar days to 15 business days
- EB5 program filing fees using Form I-526 & Form I-526E to be raised to $11,160, from $3,675
- EB5 program Form I-829 fee to be raised to $9,525, from $3,835 for most
- Lower fees are being proposed for petitions filed online such as Forms I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card), I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status), and I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), among others.
- Biometrics fees are to be included within the main immigration benefit fees for the majority of categories (except TPS Form I-821 applications)
With the proposals now moving through federal review and approval procedures, a final rule giving the increased fees effect could well be in place as early as this Spring.
Applicants are advised where possible to finalize and file applications before the new fees go live. Filings postmarked on or after the date that the rule is effective will be processed under the new fee levels.
If you are concerned about filing an application prior to the fee increases, or have concerns about how the proposed changes could impact your organization’s talent mobility to the US, contact our immigration specialists for strategic guidance.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.