Path to Legal Immigration is Getting Even More Costly

Authored by Diane E. Metzger

Nov 02, 2016

Fees charged by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for immigration applications are going up later this year, with some charges more than doubling. The increase comes from an Oct. 24 Final Rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amending the fees for various applications, including the H-1B, TN, and L-1 visas, and applications to become lawful permanent residents or naturalized U.S. citizens. The new fees will apply to all applications filed on or after Dec. 23, and the rule increases the fees for such immigration applications by an average of 21%. The last such fee increase occurred in November 2010.

For example, the fee for the I-129 application (H-1B, H-2, L-1, TN, O, P visas etc.) will increase from $325 to $460. Fees for the I-140 application, which is part of the employment-based lawful permanent residency process, will increase from $580 to $700. Fees for those seeking to adjust status to lawful permanent resident (green card) status or to become a naturalized U.S. citizen will increase from $985 to $1,140 and $595 to $640 respectively. The application fees related to the EB-5 Investor program increased the most, with Form I-526, for immigrants seeking to work as entrepreneurs, increasing from $1,500 to $3,675 and the I-924 application to seek designation as an EB-5 Regional Center increasing from $6,230 to $17,795.

What does this mean for employers of foreign workers and foreign nationals seeking to gain or extend stays in the U.S.? Unfortunately, it means that the already arduous and expensive legal path to legal immigration status is getting even more expensive. While employers of large numbers of foreign nationals will be the hardest hit by the fee increases, all foreign nationals seeking to legally live and work in the U.S. will feel the financial pain. Employers or foreign nationals who can file their immigration applications before Dec. 23 may want to take advantage of the lower fees while they last.

If you have any questions regarding the USCIS fee increases or any employment-based immigration matter, please contact Diane E. Metzger.

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