New USCIS fees make employment immigration more expensive

Applying for a visa means more than just submitting the required documents — it also means paying a fee. These fees can be a hurdle for some people, or businesses, in Louisiana. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — USCIS — recently announced a new rule for fees associated with employment immigration, citizenship and higher education.

Prior to this change, companies applying for H-1B visas on behalf of employees had to submit a $460 fee for application. The USCIS raised the application fee by 21%, making the current fee $555. L-1 visa fees saw an even more drastic increase, and businesses will now need to pay $805 per application instead of $60 — an increase of 75%. Companies whose workforce consists of at least 50% H-1B or L-1 visa holders will have to pay even more, too. Their fees will come out to $4,000 for H-1B petitions and extensions, and $4,500 for L-1 petitions and extensions.

International students submitting an I-765 for employment authorization will also pay 34% more than they did in the past, as the new fee is $550 compared to its previous $410. Other applications affected by fee increases include the I-131 for travel, the I-485 for adjustment of status and the N-400 for U.S. Citizenship. The N-400 actually saw one of the largest increases, jumping 80% from $640 to $1,160. USCIS is currently operating at a deficit, which is why some experts believe the agency chose to raise application fees so drastically.

These increases can be discouraging for Louisiana businesses, students and those who hope to one day obtain citizenship. These new fees also highlight just how important it is to pursue the correct immigration path for one’s needs. Whether pursuing employment immigration or hoping to study at a U.S. university, there may not be much financial room to file the wrong application. Speaking with someone who is knowledgeable in U.S. immigration law can be helpful for avoiding this type of costly mistake.