USCIS Fee Hike:
Its Effect upon Employers, Investors, and Non-Profit Agencies
USCIS has announced a final rule that will be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, January 31st introducing fee hikes for a wide range of immigration petitions and applications. The increases vary from an increase of a few percentage points to an over 200% increase for EB-5 immigrant investor visas. The new fee schedule will apply to USCIS petitions and applications postmarked April 1, 2024, or later.
A detailed chart summarizing the USCIS fee increases is found on page 13 of the pre-publication version of the final rule. The final fee schedule increases the time for premium processing from calendar days to business days; unbundles filing fees for adjustment of status and its related work and travel authorization applications; assesses a new Asylum Program Fee on most Form I-129 and Form I-140 filings; and as well as imposing fee increases on an array of nonimmigrant classifications sought on Form I-129. Some highlights:
USCIS will extend the premium processing adjudication period from calendar days to business days that will effectively prolong premium processing adjudications. In a separate regulation that takes effect on February 26, 2024, with the premium fee for Form I-140 petitions and most I-129 increasing to $2,805.
ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS TO PERMANENT RESIDENCE
USCIS will impose a fee of $1,440 on most adjustment of status applications, with a reduced fee of $950 for applicants under the age of 14 who are applying concurrently with a parent.
Significantly, USCIS will “unbundle” employment authorization document (EAD) and advance parole (AP) fees from the adjustment of status (AOS) filing fee. Currently, the adjustment of status filing fee reflects the cost of the adjustment application, as well as associated new and renewal Form I-765 EAD applications and Form I-131 advance parole applications. However, now foreign nationals who file an adjustment application on or after April 1 and who want an EAD or advance parole must pay an additional fee for each document.
USCIS will charge a reduced fee of $260 for Form I-765 employment authorization applications filed concurrently with the adjustment application, and for EAD renewals during the pendency of the adjustment. (The regular fee for EADs will be $520 as noted in the linked chart). Applicants who want an advance parole document will pay a fee of $630 for their initial Form I-131 and for subsequent advance parole renewals; there will be no discount for advance parole applications concurrently filed with adjustment applications or for advance parole renewals during the pendency of the adjustment.
NEW ASYLUM PROGRAM FEE
Interestingly, in a significant revision to the fee schedule, USCIS is adding a new “Asylum Program Fee” to be paid by most petitioners filing Form I-129 nonimmigrant petitions and Form I-140 immigrant visa petitions, with a reduced fee for small employers and an exemption for nonprofit organizations.
According to USCIS, this additional fee will mitigate the scope of fee increases for individual applicants and petitioners. The fee is intended to be used to fund part of the costs of administering the asylum program. Organizations with more than 25 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees will pay an Asylum Program Fee of $600 for each I-129 and I-140 form. Organizations with 25 or fewer FTEs will pay a fee of $300. Nonprofit organizations as defined by Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) will not be subject to the fee.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]