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Proposed visa fee hikes will impact immigration to the US

Posted on January 11, 2020
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immigration to the US

In November last year, the US government’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed rule that which would increase the fees for the business immigration categories. This rule proposes to increase the tax levies on employers that access the global markets to source for employers. Many feel that the increase in fees will impact immigration to the country. US businesses will feel an impact on their ability to source international talent.

Here are the details of the proposed fee hike for different visa categories:

H-1B and L-1 Visas: 

Fees for L-1 visa applications will increase from USD 460 to USD 815, this is a 77% increase in the fees. The H-1B visa fees will increase by 22% from USD 460 to 560. If the proposal comes into force, the USICS proposes to levy higher fees on companies who have more than 50 employees with 50% of their employees having an H-1B or L-1 status.

Other High-Skilled Employment Visas:

The USCIS proposes to increase the application fees for these visa categories by more than 50%. While there is no change in the fees for premium processing, the applications will be processed in 15 business days rather than 15 calendar days meaning a delay in the visa decisions despite businesses paying the premium processing fees.

H-2A and H-2B Visas:

The USCIS proposes to raise the fee for H-2A visas to USD 860 and for H-2B visa to USD 725 for petitions with named workers. The applications will, however, be limited to 25 workers. These proposals will increase the costs for employers since these visa petitions can now be applied for 100 or more workers.

 The USCIS also proposes to increase the fees for applications for permanent residence status and citizenship. In fact, the cost of citizenship application will increase by more than 80%. The cost of asylum applications has also gone up.

Consequences of the proposed fee hike:

The hike in processing fees for various visa categories by the Trump administration is seen by many as part of a plan to admit lesser immigrants, foreign workers and professionals by levying a higher fee on US businesses to discourage them from bringing in international workers.

Though the proposed fee hike has not come into effect, it is expected to create a powerful impact on immigrant applications to the US. The wisdom of the proposed hike is being questioned in view of the country’s labour shortage and the demand of highly skilled workers.

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