US Delays Final Decision On Visa Fee Hikes – What You Need to Know!

The Biden administration throws a lifeline to American businesses and aspiring immigrants with a surprise delay in finalizing a regulation that would significantly raise US visa fees. The proposed hikes, including a 70% increase for popular H-1B visas, sparked concerns and ignited debate.
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In a recent development, the Biden administration is contemplating a delay in the implementation of the highly anticipated ‘final’ regulation, which would result in increased fees for various US visa applications, including the coveted H-1B cap visas.

Originally expected to be unveiled this month or, at the latest, by January 2024, according to some reports the final regulation is now postponed until April 2024.

Background and Initial Proposal

The initial proposal, known as the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), was revealed in January 2023. This proposal suggested significant fee hikes, particularly for non-immigrant H-1B visas, causing concern among US employers.

The deferral comes as a sigh of relief for these employers, as the application fees were projected to surge by 70%, reaching a substantial $780.

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This fee increase would notably affect sponsoring employers who are obligated to E-register and file detailed H-1B visa applications for lottery-selected individuals.

Impact on H-1B Cap Applications

E-registrations for the annual H-1B cap lottery typically occur in March. The proposed E-registration fee increase, from $10 to $215, aimed to discourage misuse of the lottery system.

However, with the delay in publishing the final regulation, H-1B cap applications for the 2024-25 season are less likely to be subjected to higher fees.

  • The proposed “final” regulation to increase US visa fees, including H-1B by 70%, is deferred to April 2024.
  • H-1B cap applications for the 2024-25 season are unlikely to face higher fees.
  • E-registration fee hike for the lottery system is also delayed.
  • Citizenship and EB-5 investor fees may see minor adjustments in the final regulation.
  • Early filing is advised for US citizenship and green card applications to avoid potential future increases.

Fee Hikes Across Various Visa Categories

The NPRM also proposed a 19% increase in citizenship (naturalization) application fees, escalating from $640 to $760. The most substantial fee hikes were suggested for EB-5 investors participating in the investment-linked green card program.

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Initial I-526 petitions were set to soar by 204%, reaching $11,160, while I-829 petitions to remove conditions on permanent resident status would see a substantial 148% hike to $9,535.

Speculations and Recommendations

Immigration attorneys speculate that the proposed fees from January 2023 may undergo minor adjustments, considering the current funding needs of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

As a proactive measure, advocacy for investments in the EB-5 program is growing among immigration attorneys to navigate potential fee increases. Additionally, guidance on early filing is recommended for those aspiring for US citizenship or a green card to avoid the impact of higher fees.

In light of these developments, stakeholders and applicants are urged to stay informed and monitor updates from USCIS for any further changes in visa regulations and associated fees.

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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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