The news follows speculation in recent months about fee changes at USCIS. The agency originally published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the subject in November 2019. In May of this year, HR Dive reported that USCIS had proposed a potential 10% surcharge for applications, citing a projected budget shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in September 2019 that would require H-1B cap-subject visa petitioners to pay a $10 fee for every registration submitted to USCIS. This provision is apparently included in the Aug. 3 final rule, which “[i]ncorporates a $10 fee for the registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B petitions on behalf of cap-subject aliens.”
There are other changes introduced in the final rule that employers should note, including additional border security fees for employers with a high proportion of H-1B and L-1 visa employees, Shireen J. Karcutskie, an associate at Littler Mendelson, wrote in an article on the rule. “Current practice requires employers with more than 50 employees, 50% of whom are in H-1B or L-1 status, to pay an additional $4,000 when petitioning for an initial or change of employer H-1B, or $4,500 for an initial L-1,” Karcutskie said. “Under the final rule, affected employers must pay this fee with every extension, in addition to the initial filing.”
The H-1B visa program has been a particular source of controversy for employers in 2020. HR Dive sister site CIO Dive reported in June that the Trump administration placed a temporary suspension on the issuance of new H-1B visas through Dec. 31 via executive order. The order does not affect visa extensions or change of status applications, though it met criticism from some executives in the technology industry.
The administration has also faced litigation involving the program. In March, a federal judge invalidated a set of USCIS guidance documents that allegedly led to a slower approval process as well as a higher level of rejected petitions for information technology industry employers.
News Source: HR Dive