United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for adjudicating and granting most requests for immigration benefits—including nonimmigrant petitions filed on Form I-129, immigrant petitions filed on Form I-140, Adjustment of Status applications filed on Form I-485, and Naturalization applications filed on Form N-400—has issued a final rule increasing the filing fees that must be paid by entities or persons seeking a wide range of immigration benefits. These new fees will be payable starting on April 1, 2024.
USCIS is a fee-based agency, with 96% of its operations funded through the fees paid to it by the consumers of its services, rather than through congressional appropriations. USCIS states that the increased fees will allow it “to recover a greater share of its operating costs and support more timely processing of new applications.” The agency also notes that these increases are the first that have been introduced since December 2016 and further observes that every fee in the Final Rule is the same or lower than the fees that appeared in the proposed fee increase rule issued on January 4, 2023.
The Final Rule includes some dramatic fee increases. These include, notably, the filing fee for H-1B Specialty Occupation petitions, which has risen from $460 to $780 (a 70% increase). The filing fee remains at $460 for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees and nonprofit employers as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The filing fee for L-1 Intracompany Transferee petitions has risen from $460 to $1,385 (a 201% increase). A smaller increase to $695 applies for small businesses and nonprofit petitioners.
The fee for O-1 petitions has increased from $460 to $1,055 (a 129% increase). A smaller increase to $530 applies for employers with 25 or fewer employees and nonprofit employers. Petitioners filing Form I-129 to seek E, H-3, P, Q, or TN status will pay an increased fee of $1,015, up from $460 (a 121% increase). A smaller fee increase to $510 applies for small businesses and nonprofits.
The fee for I-140 petitions has increased only modestly, from $700 to $715.
I-129 and I-140 petitions will also have to include a new “Asylum Program Fee” of $600 with every petition, although employers with 25 or fewer employees need only pay a fee of $300 and nonprofit employers are exempt from this $600 fee.
A Snapshot of the Fee Increases
Please refer to the chart below for a snapshot of the fee increases for some of the more common paper-based requests for immigration benefits filed by for-profit entities that employ more than 25 full-time-equivalent employees.
The Final Rule includes other significant provisions, including the following:
- The H-1B Registration Fee payable by sponsoring employers who register individuals for the H-1B cap lotteries held in March of each year will increase from $10 to $215, a 2,050% increase. This fee will not be payable for Fiscal Year 2025 registration applications filed this March but will take effect for FY 2026 applications next year.
- The USCIS recently increased the fees for the Premium Processing service, which reduces the processing time for eligible applications and petitions to between 15 and 45 days. The new Premium Processing fees—which take effect on February 26, 2024—range from $1,685 to $2,805, and the Final Rule does not increase these fees further. The Final Rule does redefine the metric for Premium Processing time frames from calendar days to business days, thus significantly lengthening these time frames.
- Applicants filing Form I-485 Adjustment of Status applications after April 1, 2024, will pay a filing fee of $1,440 (and $950 for applicants under age 14 who apply concurrently with a parent). Separate fees for I-765 applications for Employment Authorization (EAD) and I-131 Advance Parole (AP) applications submitted with Form I-485 will soon be required. At present, initial EAD and AP fees are included in the Form I-485 filing fee. USCIS will reduce the fee for EAD applications filed concurrently with Form I-485, and for EAD renewal applications filed while Form I-485 remains pending, to $260. The fee for AP applications will be $630 for both initial and renewal AP applications.
- The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) fee of $750 or $1,500 (depending on the employee count of the petitioner) payable with the filing of certain H-1B nonimmigrant petitions is not increased by the Final Rule, nor is the $500 Fraud Prevention fee payable by H-1B and L-1 petitioners.
- The Final Rule eliminates the separate $85 Biometrics fee that is payable for certain types of applications, including N-400 Naturalization applications and I-485 Adjustment of Status applications, and incorporates this fee into the filing fee. Applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will still require a separate biometrics fee of $30.
- To encourage the online filing of applications, the Final Rule provides a discount of $50 off the filing fee for eligible immigration benefit requests that are filed electronically.
- The USCIS has made available a 50% fee reduction for N-400 Naturalization applications filed by persons who can demonstrate household income between 150% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
USCIS’s substantial increases to its fees are an additional financial burden to what is already an expensive process for employers seeking to hire and retain foreign national workers. Although the Final Rule states that, for most individual filers, the new fees will not increase by more than 26%, which is equivalent to the increase in the Consumer Price Index since the last fee rule was issued in 2016, no such assurance is provided to business entities and the new fees in many cases far exceed any cost increases caused by inflation or other factors. Employers can delay the impact of this rule by filing any petitions or applications that are subject to the new fees before they take effect on April 1 of this year, provided that the window for such filing (in the case of nonimmigrant extension petitions, 6 months before expiration) has been reached.