Categories News & Updates USCIS

Chart Showing USCIS Fee Increases

See the summary chart of fee increases at the bottom of this article.

USCIS has issued a new fee schedule that will go into effect on April 1, 2024. USCIS has not done this sort of fee increase since December of 2016. USCIS states that the increases are necessary to improve processing times, considering increasing costs due to inflation. USCIS had issued a proposed rule, followed by a notice and comment period. There were few changes to the proposed fees after the notice and comment period.

First, the good news. Because the new fees go into effect on April 1st, the increased H-1B registration fee will not be impacted for this year’s H-1B lottery.

On the other hand, U.S. companies are being asked to shoulder costs for administering the asylum program, wherein many applicants are unable to pay the costs associated with processing their application. The additional $600 fee will be assessed to companies filing cases on Form I-129, which includes H-1Bs, as well as Form I-140 for those going through the green card process. The fee is reduced to $300 for organizations with fewer than 25 employees, and $0 for nonprofit organizations.

Employers currently pay a $500 fraud prevention fee on many cases, which is a 1-time fee. They also pay a $1500 education and training fee on H-1Bs ($750 for companies with 25 or fewer employees), which is typically paid twice – once on the employee’s initial petition and again on the first extension. However, this new asylum program fee does not seem to have any such limits. This means that the fee could be paid many times by companies sponsoring an H-1B employee, for example, from India who requires many extension before being able to receive a green card.

Here is a summary of the fee increases:

Case Type Current Fee New Fee
4/1/2024
Percent Change  
EMPLOYMENT-BASED PETITION FEES
Standard Asylum Program Fee (applicable to I-129 and I-140 petitions) N/A $600 N/A
Asylum Program Fee – Small Employers (25 employees or less) N/A $300 N/A
Asylum Program Fee – Nonprofits N/A $0 N/A
NONIMMIGRANT      
H-1B Registration Fee $10 $215 2050%
Form I-129 H-1B and H-1B1 Classifications $460 $780 70%
Form I-129 H-1B and H-1B1 Classifications – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $460 0%
Form I-129 H-2B – Named Beneficiaries $460 $1,080 135%
Form I-129 H-2B – Named Beneficiaries – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $540 17%
Form I-129 H-2B – Unnamed Beneficiaries $460 $580 26%
Form I-129 H-2B – Unnamed Beneficiaries – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $460 0%
Form I-129 L Classification $460 $1,385 201%
Form I-129 L Classification – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $695 51%
Form I-129 O Classification $460 $1,055 129%
Form I-129 O Classification – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $530 15%
Form I-129 E-1, E-2, E-3, TN, H-3, P, Q, R Classifications $460 $1,015 121%
Form I-129 E-1, E-2, E-3, TN, H-3, P, Q, R Classifications – Sm Emp and NP’s $460 $510 11%
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status – Online $370 $420 14%*
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status – Paper $370 $470 27%*
IMMIGRANT      
Form I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition $700 $715 2%
Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor $3,675 $11,160 204%
Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor $3,675 $11,160 204%
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $1,140 $1,440 26%
Form I-485, Application to Register Perm. Res. or Adjust Status (under 14) $750 $950 27%
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization – Online $410 $470*** 15%*
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization – Paper $410 $520*** 27%*
Form I-131, Application for Travel Document $575 $630 10%
Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card – Online $455 $415 -9%
Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card – Paper $455 $465 2%
CITIZENSHIP      
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization – Online $640 $710 11%
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization – Paper $640 $760 19%

 

Please contact us at info@grahamadair.com; (408) 715-7067 with any questions.

Categories News & Updates USCIS

USCIS Organization Account Rollout Next Month

Earlier this month, we were excited to share with you that the USCIS would be allowing for e-filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions. On Wednesday, January 24, 2023, USCIS held a webinar for legal representatives on their new online organization accounts rollout. The enhancements to their online account system, which include the ability to file H-1B petitions and premium processing requests online, go live February 2024, just in time for the FY2025 H-1B registration period and H-1B cap season petition filings.

USCIS hopes that these new features will foster further collaboration between legal representatives and H-1B petitioning companies. With the rollout, H-1B petitioning companies will assume a larger role in the H-1B registration process and online filing system with the creation of company groups. Each company group will have one or more administrator who has the authority to pay for and file petitions on behalf of the company as well as group members.

As of now, there are limitations to the new organization accounts system that will render law firms unable to implement on a large scale. For instance, concurrent filing of H-1B petitions and H-4 dependent applications is not going to be available in February, and the ability to upgrade a paper I-129 petition to premium processing will also not be available in February.

USCIS’s mission to modernize its filing system is a welcome sign that other filing and case processing enhancements may be coming in the near future. We are monitoring these changes and will provide updates as they are available.

Please contact us at info@grahamadair.com or (408) 715-7067 with questions about this topic or other immigration inquiries.

 

What Employers Need to Know Before Hiring Immigrant Workers
Categories Immigration and Customs Enforcement

What Employers Need to Know Before Hiring Immigrant Workers

Immigration has been part of the American landscape from the very beginning. It is often said that we are a nation of immigrants, which is hard to argue if you know our history. As such, it should be no surprise that companies in the U.S. are usually more than willing to hire immigrant workers as readily and willingly as they do those born here.

With all that said, there are laws on the books governing how immigrant workers can be hired. There are both legal and illegal ways to do it. As immigration attorneys, Graham Adair assists companies and their foreign-born workers committed to doing things the right way. We are immigration law experts with a special focus on business immigration.

If you are new to the whole business immigration concept, here are some things you need to know before you start looking into hiring immigrant workers:

1. Immigrant Doesn’t Mean Illegal

Unfortunately, the terms ‘immigrant’ and ‘illegal’ are used together far too often. Yes, there are people from other countries who enter the U.S. without proper documentation. But that is not true of all immigrants. It is not true of all immigrant workers.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, some 28.6 million members of the civilian workforce in 2021 were legal immigrants. That accounts for about 17% of the total civilian labor force. These were legally registered immigrants who followed the rules and got jobs. Their contributions to our economy are no less important than anyone else’s.

2. Workers Need Visas

Immigrant workers must have visas to work legally in this country. The most important thing in this regard is the fact that there are literally dozens of types of visas issued by USCIS according to the circumstances and needs of each applicant. One of the visas we specialize in is the H-1B.

The H-1B visa is designed for professional workers who will only be in the U.S. temporarily. Similar visas for professional workers include the E-3 and TN visas. H-2A and H-2B are temporary visas for seasonal laborers.

There are many others, including the L-1, P-1, E-1, E-2, and R visas. Here is the point: you need to know what kind of visa a worker must possess before you can hire them. This is one area in which the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney is invaluable. Immigration attorneys understand the different visas and their applications.

3. Employers Must Verify Eligibility

Next, know that employers are required by law to verify the eligibility of any immigrant workers they hope to employ. Job candidates provide the necessary documentation. Employers are required to verify this documentation and to keep copies as proof of compliance. Eligibility is also verified by way of Form I-9.

Employers must furnish proof of eligibility upon request from authorized government agencies. Therefore, it is in an employee’s best interest to keep meticulous records where employee eligibility and verification are concerned.

4. Use of the E-Verify System

The federal government maintains an E-Verify system employers can use to verify eligibility online. The system is open to all employers across the country. It is voluntary from a federal standpoint, but some states mandate the use of E-Verify for any and all hires. Employers need to know whether the system is voluntary or mandatory in the states in which they hope to hire.

Business immigration can be challenging at times. If you need assistance, feel free to contact Graham Adair. If your case is something that we can help with, we can collaborate with you to come up with a plan of action moving forward.

How Chevron's Fate in SCOTUS Could Impact Immigration Cases
Categories News & Updates

How Chevron’s Fate in SCOTUS Could Impact Immigration Cases

Two cases now before the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) have the potential to significantly alter both past and future immigration cases, depending on how the court rules. The two cases call into question the 1984 Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council. Should the court decide to overturn Chevron, or limit its implications, scores of past cases might have to be reviewed.

SCOTUS is expected to rule on the case by the end of this session. As things currently stand, it appears as though the court may be ready to limit Chevron’s scope or overturn it all together. How will that affect future immigration cases? It could force courts to take a more active role in determining outcomes rather than deferring to federal agencies.

Basics of Chevron Deference

Without getting mired in the details, the Chevron case back in 1984 led to what is now known as Chevron deference. Chevron deference allows courts to defer to administrative agencies and their interpretations of the statutes they are tasked with administering. When there are ambiguities in said statutes, government agencies are generally given pretty wide latitude to interpret applications.

Immigration cases, whether they be related to business immigration or more general in nature, are decided largely by the USCIS and BIA, by way of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of State.

In the two cases now before the court, attorneys for both plaintiffs argue that administrative agencies only have the authority to interpret ambiguous statutes if the statutes themselves grant such authority. In the absence of such authority, it is up to the courts to determine what laws actually mean. It is the court’s purview to determine congressional intent as a means of providing good checks and balances our constitution calls for.

Lawyers for the defendants take the opposite few. They believe Congress always intended to give administrative agencies great latitude in interpreting statutes, especially since statutes cannot account for every single detail or possibility that might come up. That brings us back to the main question of how an overturned or limited Chevron might impact immigration.

Four Considerations

There are countless ways an overturned or limited Chevron could affect immigration cases. At the top of the list would be a forced review of past cases decided unfavorably by BIA. We can imagine a whole host of cases for which attorneys would seek review. That alone could open a Pandora’s box that immigration attorneys shudder to think about. But above and beyond past reviews, here are four considerations for future cases:

  1. Less Leeway – Any restrictions to Chevron would mean less leeway for administrative agencies. For example, this could make it more difficult for an employer to obtain a more favorable interpretation that would grant a positive H-1B decision.
  1. Less Consistency – One could make the argument that Chevron’s current application creates more consistency in immigration decisions. Restricting Chevron would lead to less consistency. That could make the H-1B process even more difficult.
  1. Court InvolvementChevron restrictions would ultimately lead to more court involvement in immigration cases. With less room for interpretation, administrative agencies would have to rely more on the courts for adjudication.
  1. Congressional Involvement – Restricting Chevron will almost certainly lead to Congressional action as lawmakers attempt to tighten up ambiguous statutes. That could go either way for immigration.

As immigration attorneys, we will keep an eye on the two pending cases in anticipation of an early summer ruling. In whichever way SCOTUS rules, Chevron will be impacted. In turn, there will be an impact on immigration cases moving forward.

Categories News & Updates

BREAKING NEWS: USCIS Will Allow E-Filing of H-1B Cap Cases

Today, USCIS announced that it has created an option for online filing of Form I-129 for new H-1B cases subject to the FY 2025 cap. There will be an enhancement in the already existing portal for H-1B registrations that, among other things, will enable cases selected in the lottery to be filed online.

The announcement specifically states that Form I-129 and Form I-907 for premium processing will be eligible for online submission. This change came about after USCIS sought feedback from employers and attorneys.

One of the specific improvements will be organizational accounts that will enable better collaboration between companies and their legal counsel. Company representatives and their authorized legal representatives will all be able to log into the same account, which will increase visibility and coordination.

USCIS will continue to allow physical paper filings of H-1B cap cases for the FY 2025 cap season for any companies wishing to do so instead of filing online.

USCIS will be hosting multiple forums to provide additional information in the coming weeks. We will provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, please contact us at info@grahamadair.com; (408) 715-7067 with any questions.