Why is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) increasing filing fees?

USCIS has stated that it is increasing filing fees for its petitions to offset operational costs, improve customer service operations by reducing case processing times, and maintain timely case processing to prevent future backlogs. The work USCIS does in adjudicating petitions is almost entirely funded by the required filing fees – 90% of the spending authority in fiscal year (“FY”) 2022 came from these fees. Additionally, to comply with U.S. law, the fees are supposed to “be set at a level that will ensure recovery of the full costs of providing […] services.”

Toward this end, USCIS conducts a fee review every two years to ensure that fees are covering the agency’s operating costs. If the review determines that costs are exceeding the collected fees, fee increases are proposed. The current filing fees were established in 2016, and because of a rise in operating costs as well as federally-mandated pay increases for the agency’s employees, the filing fees are not meeting the operational costs.

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Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

Why has it been so long since the fees were updated?

In the fee review process of FY 2019/2020, USCIS discovered that the filing fees it had collected were not actually covering its operating costs. The agency proposed a fee increase, accepted comments on that proposal, and issued a final rule that increased the fees. However, this increase never went into effect.

A coalition of several non-profit immigration services organizations filed a lawsuit against the increase. The court ruled in the coalition’s favor, and thus, the fee increase was never implemented.

What petitions will be impacted by the new proposal and how much will the fee increase be?

All of the most commonly filed petitions were impacted by the new proposal, and while fee increases varied, the average increase is 40% where most of the increases will impact employment-based petitions. We have provided information on several common petitions below. If your petition is not listed, you can find the increased amounts here on the USCIS website.

Type of Petition Current Fee New Fee Increase
H-1B CAP Lottery Registration $10 $215 *unlike other fee increases this does not go into effect until 2025 2,050%
H-1B $460 $780 70%
L-1 $460 $1,385 201%
O-1 $460 $1,055 129%
E-3 and TN $460 $1,015 121%
Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) – Filed Electronically $410 $470 15%
Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) – Filed via Paper $410 $520 27%
I-140 $700 $715 2%
I-485 Adjustment of Status (“AOS”), including biometrics $1,225 $1,440 18%

What is the timeline for the new filing fees?

The fee increase proposal was submitted on January 4, 2023 and received more than 8,000 comments before closing for public comment on March 6, 2023. The final rule was approved on January 19, 2024 by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and published in the Federal Register on January 30, 2024. The final rule will go into effect on April 1, 2024.

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Photo by Clayton Robbins on Unsplash

In the last year, the Department of State also increased non-immigration visa (“NIV”) fees. You can read our perspective on those fee increases here.

Zulkie Partners will continue to monitor and provide updates on the final rule related to these increases. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions related to how this will impact your company’s immigration plan or about filing your next petition.