USCIS Extends Comment Period for Proposed Fee Increase

USCIS (Designed by Freepik)
March 6, 2023

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended the public comment period for its controversial increase in filing fees. As such, the federal agency has added a week to the comment period. This extra time is a final chance for employers and other stakeholders to provide more feedback.

The USCIS proposed these increases in an announcement on January 4, 2023. The proposal would significantly raise the cost of many services, primarily for employment-related visas. For example, filing fees for the popular H-1B visa used by skilled workers would increase 70% to $780 over its current cost of $460, marking a 2,050% increase.

In addition, the electronic registration fee would rise from $10 to $215. In addition to these costs, the USCIS would charge a $600 surcharge for Nonimmigrant Worker Petitions (I-129) and Immigrant Petitions for Alien Workers (I-140). Unfortunately, employers may see a considerable repetition of these fees due to the many filing processes involved with getting visa workers. For example, they would pay for every initial H-1B petition, an extension of status, and an immigrant petition for employment-based lawful permanent residence.

According to the Federal Register notice, these significant increases primarily intend to help cover the costs of increased asylum processing. However, some have questioned USCIS’s justification for raising the H-1B registration fee. For example, many people have voiced concern because the registration fee requires little effort to process, manage, or oversee.

Contrary to those concerned, many stakeholders sympathized with the agency’s situation. They acknowledged the overwhelming backlogs, budget shortfalls, and staffing issues. However, the agency continues to face notable criticism concerning the immense fee increase. In addition, many employers have noted that the largest share of the burden falls directly on them.

Despite the increase in costs for immigration benefits, the USCIS has failed to provide increased service. Instead, it has reduced efficiency in processing over recent years. As a result, employers could pay more for no apparent benefit.

Initially, the comment period for the proposed rule would have ended on March 6, 2023. However, the USCIS has added another five business days to this. Reportedly, this is due to technical issues which prevented public comment for 24 hours. As a result, the public now has until March 13, 2023, to submit a comment.

Many challenges and potential missteps exist for employers attempting to hire foreign national workers. Unfortunately, nowhere can this prove more accurate than the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9). However, an electronic I-9 management system can help remove this burden. This system provides step-by-step guidance, helpful reminders, and convenient storage of forms and documentation.

Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9 Compliance.