Sanwar Ali: Huge increase in US work visa fees and other fees

BSanwar Ali:

There are significant increases in many USCIS US work visa fees from 2 October 2020.  At the same time in some cases there is a reduction in US visa fees.  Despite the Trump US work visa ban you can in many cases still submit petitions to the USCIS.  It is just that even if you have an approved petition and are affected by the ban, you cannot apply for a visa from outside the US for about six months.  If you are able to apply it may be worth applying before 2 October 2020 to avoid the new fees.  If you are affected by the work visa ban you could put a start date in 2021.  E2 visa and O1 visa applicants and certain other visa categories are not affected by the visa ban.

The new fee scale increases fees by an average of 20%.   This is similar to the 21% increase by USCIS in 2016.  It is claimed that the fee increases reflect the amount of work that USCIS needs to do for each application.  It could be argued that the system is too complicated and bureaucratic in the first place and should be simplified.  Also, USCIS asks for unnecessary information and documentation and ends up wasting everyone’s time.

US work non-immigrant visa schemes affected.

Employers applying for temporary work visas will see an increase in costs:

  1. L1 visa for Intra-Company Transfers – 75% increase from $460 to $815
  2. H1B visa for specialty workers – 22% increase from $460 to $555
  3. O1 visa for those with extraordinary ability – 53% increase from $460 to $705
  4. H2B visa for non-agricultural worker named beneficiary – 55% increase from $460 to $715
  5. H2B visa for non-agricultural workers for unnamed beneficiaries – 16% reduction from $460 to $38

The following are some other changes that are likely to affect businesses and their employees:

1. I-129 TN petitions: Increase from $460 to $695

2. I-140 Employment Based Green Card petitions: Decrease from $700 to $555

3. Adjustment of status applications: Decrease from $1140 to $1130

4. I-539 applications to extend or change non-immigrant status: Increase from $370 to $390

5. I-765 employment authorisation applications: Increase from $410 to $550 for non-DACA EADs

Naturalization applications: Increase from $640 to $1160

Worse service under USCIS Premium Processing

There is no increase in USCIS premium processing services, which remains at US$1,440.   However, the service will become worse.  You will have to wait 15 business days instead of the current 15 calendar days.  This will affect many non-immigrant visa applications such as the L1 visa and H1B visa and some employment based immigrant applications.

DACA work authorization fee Increase will not happen

It was widely expected that there would be a huge in increase in applications by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) applicants for work authorization.  This was expected to increase from $495 to $765.  However, now the fee will remain at $495.

DACA applicants are undocumented migrants who arrived in the US as children.  There is a great deal of sympathy for DACA application and following 43,108 public comments on the proposed rule, which was released in November, USCIS changed their mind on this.

Department of Homeland Security says increase nothing to do with coronavirus COVID-19

USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Apparently the visa fee increase in many cases has nothing to do with the recent coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.  The following comment wad made by DHS:

“has no comparable historical data that can be used to project the scope, duration, and total effect this will have on USCIS’ revenue.”

Workpermit.com can help with US employment-based visas

If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visasE2 visasO1 visas and H1B visas - Workpermit.com can help. 

Workpermit.com is a specialist visa services firm with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Contact us for further details.  You can also telephone 0344 991 9222.