Employers may soon find themselves paying higher fees to hire foreign workers or sponsor them for permanent residence. This change is due to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposal that specifically increases fees for employment-based immigration. The proposal will become subject to a comment period of sixty days, and once this period ends, the DHS can publish a final rule.
The proposed regulation contains a fee that businesses and universities must pay. These fees will help fund the U.S. asylum program. However, its proposal also considerably increases costs when individuals use the H-1B electronic registration system.
Under the new rule, employers hiring H-1B workers would need to pay $780, an increase of 70%. In addition, there would be a 201% increase for L-1 petitions and 129% for O-1 petitions.
The fees will also increase for individuals obtaining an adjustment of status (Form I-485) to obtain permanent residence, advanced parole (I-131), and a work permit (I-765) will increase by 130%. In addition, these fees could increase if the person filing has dependents. Finally, filing the cost of filing Forms I-131 and I-485 will increase by 77%, while petitions for H-2A and H-2B will increase by 137% and 135%, respectively,
Among these changes, employers will find two more increases that may prove concerning. First, the DHS is proposing an Asylum Program Fee. The new fee would be $600 and paid by employers filing either an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form (I-140) or a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129).
The DHS and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also proposed to increase the H-1B Electronic Registration Fee from $10 to $215.
The USCIS claims the increase in fees for some petitions is necessary. It would allow them to hire more adjudicators, meet operational costs, maintain the asylum program, perform application reviews more quickly, and reduce the agency’s considerable backlog of pending cases.
The agency stated that the proposed fee structure would also help avoid the budget crisis it had in 2020. According to the USCIS Director, the proposed rule will enable the agency to recover a greater proportion of its operating costs. This recovery would be greater than the last six years and support the current administration’s work to rebuild the legal immigration system.
However, many employers may struggle with the significant fee increases for work-related immigration benefits. In addition, some predict lawsuits may follow this proposed change. As these proposed changes illustrate, the regulations concerning immigrant workers are constantly shifting. Unfortunately, nowhere is this more apparent than in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9).
As many employers have found, complying with Form I-9 requirements can prove challenging. However, an electronic I-9 management tool can help to simplify this process with step-by-step guidance and an easy-to-use interface.
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