This week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it has raised filing fees for most applications and petitions by an average of 21%. This is the first increase in base filing fees in six years and the new fee schedule is effective from December 23 onwards.
"As an agency dependent upon users’ fees to operate, these changes are now necessary to ensure we can continue to serve our customers effectively," said USCIS Director León Rodríguez in a statement.
According to the official website, the most searched for forms are the the application for citizenship or naturalization, application for a green card, petition for helping a relative immigrate, and the application for a U.S. work permit.
|Petition||New Fee||Old Fee|
|H-1B/L-1/O-1 Visa Base Filing Fee (I-129)||$460||$325|
|Application for Naturalization (N-400)||$640||$595|
|Application for Green Card (I-485)||$750||$635|
|Petition for Alien Relative (I-130)||$535||$420|
|Application for Work Permit (I-765)||$410||$380|
However, the form that affects U.S. businesses employing non-immigrant temporary workers on the H-1B visa is the I-129 and its cost has been raised by 30%. The price difference isn't sizeable, especially considering the heft of some of the companies that sponsor foreign employees, but the number of petitions submitted by the top sponsors each year run into thousands. Take for instance IBM (IBM), which submitted 13,600 petitions in 2016, according to myvisajobs.com. The price hike would result in almost $2 million of additional expenditure that year.
Also, H-1B and L visa related fees, which are paid by U.S. employers, already saw a dramatic increase in January when an additional charge of $4,000 was imposed on companies employing more than 50 people with half of the employees on the H-1B or L visa. According to RedBus2us, the total fees paid by U.S. employers to sponsor an employee can range from $1,600 to $7,400 and includes fraud detection fees and an American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act fee of $750 - $1500, plus immigration attorney fees.
According to official USCIS reports, the total number of H-1B petitions filed in 2014 was 318,824, and 65% of these petitions were for workers in computer-related occupations. Sixty-nine percent of the approved applications were for Indian citizens. In 2016, among the top 25 H-1B sponsors were Microsoft (MSFT) (4,575 applications), Amazon (AMZN) (2,171 applications), and Google (GOOG) (4,048 applications).
The price of the form required to apply for naturalization/citizenship has been increased from $595 to $640. Since a high price shouldn't be a deterrent for people eligible for citizenship, low-income applicants can apply for a waiver that drops the fee amount to $320, plus an $85 biometric services fee.
For a look at the new fee schedule click here.