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Filing and Registration Fees to Increase for H-1B Cap, Nonimmigrant Petitions, Residence Applications and U.S. Citizenship Applications

December 5, 2019

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule requiring employers to pay a $10.00 non-refundable fee for each H-1B cap registration submitted, once the electronic system is implemented. This final federal rule becomes effective on December 9, 2019 and will affect H-1B cap-subject petitions filed in the April 2020 cap season.

What You Need to Know

On November 4, 2019, USCIS Acting Director Kenneth Cuccinelli expressed confidence that the electronic registration system would be implemented for the fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap selection process. He also indicated that a determination of whether the system will actually be implemented will be announced in 2019.

All H-1B cap petitioners will be mandated to first electronically register information related to the company and the intending beneficiary during a designated registration period. The $10.00 fee will be required upon submission of the electronic registration. It is anticipated that the pre-registration system will ultimately lower the costs of H-1B filings for U.S. petitioning companies seeking H-1B benefits for foreign nationals.

USCIS Proposes Increased Filing Fees for Nonimmigrant Petitions, Residence and U.S. Citizenship Applications

USCIS recently announced its intent to implement a new schedule for filing fees for all its services. USCIS is self-funded and does not have a separate congressional funding line from Congress. All fees charged are expected to ensure the full cost of administering applications and petitions, adjudicating them and providing the necessary infrastructure to support its activities, according to its November 8, 2019 statement.

Currently, the filing fee for a U.S. citizenship application is $725.00. The new fee proposal is $1170.00 per application, a significant cost increase.

Petitions for U.S. citizenship may be filed for permanent residents over the age of 18. USCIS had a fee-waiver and partial fee-waiver system in place for low-income immigrants. The new rule would eliminate a reduced-fee option for applications from families with incomes between 150% and 200% of the poverty level and almost completely eliminate waivers for all others.

The cost to replace a permanent resident card (green card) will be reduced by 9%, thus encouraging more green card renewal filings rather than citizenship applications due to the heightened cost of citizenship filings.

Nonimmigrant petitions for the H-1B, L-1, E and O visa category have all had the same filing fees to date. The proposed rule will change the filing fee for different nonimmigrant petitions, which is unprecedented in the history of filing fee submissions with USCIS.

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