Final Rule by USCIS for Adjusting Immigration Fees in EB-5 Program and H-1B Registrations

For the first time since 2016, the USCIS issued a final rule to modify specific fees associated with immigration and naturalization benefit requests. In this iteration, each fee is either reduced or maintained at the same level as proposed earlier, with most individual filers facing limits on fee increases.

The final rule (issued on February 10, 2024) ensures that new fees will not surpass a 26% increase, aligning with the Consumer Price Index hike since the previous fee rule issued in 2016. This ceiling applies universally, even for individual filers. Additionally, a $50 discount will be applicable for forms submitted online.

Impact on EB-5 and H-1B Programs

A separate rule implemented in 2019 introduced a $10 registration fee for each beneficiary in H-1B registrations (distinct from the H-1B petition filing fee tied to Form I-129). The proposed $215 registration fee aligns with empirical cost estimates.

The final rule will raise fees for the EB-5 program (for investors) in line with adjustments for other benefits. Under this ruling, fees based on a full-cost recovery model for immigrant investor forms will not be reduced or capped below estimated cost recovery. The Department of Homeland Security believes that the program costs more to run than the fees currently cover. 

Additional changes to note

Several additional modifications accompany the final rule:

  • The $30 fee for returned checks will be abolished.
  • Certain petitions for temporary workers (nonimmigrant workers) will be capped at 25 beneficiaries per petition.
  • Separate filing fees will be mandatory for Form I-131 (travel document), Form I-485 (adjustment of status), and Form I-764 (employment authorization).
  • Separate fees will apply to Petitions for Nonimmigrant Workers or Form I-129.
  • The timeframe for “premium processing” (faster application processing) will be measured in business days instead of calendar days (weekends and holidays excluded).
  • USCIS will no longer automatically resubmit payments returned due to reasons other than insufficient funds.
  • Fees paid by credit card to USCIS will not be subject to chargeback, dispute, return-to-the-cardholder, or forced refund, except at the agency’s discretion.
  • Adoption cases for countries participating in the Hague Adoption Convention will be aligned with the Convention’s processes.
  • USCIS will update its adoption procedures for countries that are not part of the Hague Adoption Convention.
  • Adopted children filing applications for naturalization or Certificates of Citizenship based on their adoption will be exempt from fees.
  • The regulations for requesting genealogical research will be revised, and a fee will be introduced for Form G-1566 (used for such requests).

Further insights on the Final Rule

USCIS will implement a grace period from April 1 to June 3, 2024. During this period, the agency will accept both old and new versions of certain forms, provided they are filed with the correct and updated fees.

Notably, no grace period will be granted for forms requiring revision due to the new fee calculation. These include:

  • Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) and Form I-129 CW (Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker)
  • Form I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, including supplements 1, 2, and 3)
  • Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers)
  • Form I-1600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative)

The date stamped on the envelope (postmark date) will determine which application form versions and fees are to be used. The date USCIS receives the application (receipt date) will be used as the basis for determining whether the application meets legal deadlines for filing (if any).

Significance of the final rule for USCIS

The goal of the final rule is to help USCIS expedite the processing of new applications and recover most of its operating costs.

These updates stem from a comprehensive fee review mandated by law and align with the notice of proposed rulemaking published in January 2023.

The review identified a shortfall in current fees to cover agency operations, including federally mandated pay raises, staffing requirements, and humanitarian programs.

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