The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finalized a new rule increasing fees and eliminating fee waivers for many immigration-related services performed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The new fee structure will take effect October 2. The increased costs of immigration-related services are across the board, affecting non-immigrants seeking work visas, business seeking to hire foreign workers, asylum seekers, immigrants seeking permanent residency, and green card holders seeking citizenship. USCIS says the increased fees and reduced fee waivers are necessary to maintain and recover operational costs.
There are many notable fee increases.
The I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker form is used for nonimmigrant visas, including the H-1B and L-1 visas. Currently, all visas covered by the I-129 form are $460, but the new rule changes the cost of the application based on the type of visa being sought. The new fee for filing for an H-1B visa will be $555, an increase of 21 percent and the new fee for the L-1 visa will be $805, a 75 percent increase. Other work visas covered by the I-129 form will see an average fee increase of about 50 percent, with most increasing to $695. This includes the E, H-3, O ($705), P, Q, R, and TN visas. The I-765 Application for Employment Authorization used for Optional Practical Training (OPT) will be $550, a 34 percent increase.
Asylum seekers face brand new fees, including a $50 free to apply for asylum in the United States. Previously, there had not been a cost associated with an asylum application. Charging an application fee for asylum is incredibly rare around the world; the U.S. will be only the fourth country to have a fee associated with asylum, joining Australia, Fiji, and Iran. Asylum seekers seeking work authorization will now also face a brand new $490 fee. Seeking an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) was previously free.
The cost of naturalization is also skyrocketing. The N-400 Application for Naturalization is increasing 81 percent, from $640 to $1,160. Paper filings will now also cost an additional $10 on top of that fee. Other naturalization services are seeing some fees increase by up to 383 percent.
See the full rule change here (PDF).
Between the fee increases and the elimination of most fee waivers, immigration expenses are about to increase on October 2. If you or your family member is planning on seeking immigration services in the near future, it would be best to be prepared. The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth has been helping people meet their immigration goals for more than 35 years. We offer free initial consultations, so call us today at 888-517-9888 to speak with an immigration expert!