The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has ended the comment period for the agency’s proposed fee increases for most services. The USCIS first unveiled the fee increases for immigration benefits in January 2023. It had a deadline for public comments set for March 6, 2023. Unfortunately, technical issues prevented the public from posting comments for some time, so the USCIS extended the deadline.
These increases, which affect employers in particular, have received almost 70,000 comments. The majority of comments have expressed significant opposition or concerns regarding the measures. The proposed changes would increase application fees for most immigration benefits offered by the USCIS.
Increases in application fees often create dramatic increases elsewhere, including for family-based visas and employment-based visas. One example is the electronic registration fee employers must pay to register H-1B beneficiaries. This fee would increase from $10 to $215, a 2,050% increase.
Other notable increases include a $600 fee employers would pay when filing a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) or an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140). Unfortunately, employers often pay this fee on multiple occasions. For example, they may pay when initially filing an H-1B petition. Then, they would pay again when filing for an extension of status. Finally, employers would pay a third time when filing for an employment-based green card.
Regardless of these changes and assuming the number of registrations remains consistent in future years, the USCIS would collect roughly an additional $100 million annually under the proposed increases. However, the USCIS insists on the necessity of these fees. According to the agency, the increase would help it meet current operational requirements and reduce the enormous backlog of pending cases.
This backlog has ballooned in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the agency faced considerable financial challenges because of the pandemic. For example, 2020 saw a 40% drop in revenue due to fewer applications. According to the USCIS, the agency almost entirely relies on filing fees. These proposed changes are not set in stone, as the USCIS must publish a Final Rule in the Federal Register. In addition, it remains unknown if the USCIS will consider the public’s feedback when modifying the proposed fee increases.
These changes are just a few examples of the government’s ever-shifting regulations. However, the rules change fastest in the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process. Therefore, the best way to remain current with these changes is to utilize an electronic Form I-9 tool. This tool can provide step-by-step guidance and convenient storage, among many other features.
Automate your employment eligibility verification today with the ensured compliance of I-9 Compliance.