USCIS to Introduce Major Changes to H-1B and L-1 Visa Fees and Regulations

USCIS is set to unveil new regulations for H-1B and L-1 visas aimed at reducing fraud and bolstering national security. Effective July 8, the proposed rules will impose substantial fees on visa extensions, affecting many employers and professionals.
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US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will announce significant changes to H-1B and L-1 visa regulations to address fraud and enhance national security.

On July 8, USCIS will formally present these adjustments, imposing new financial burdens on employers and impacting Indian professionals and IT companies that heavily rely on these visas.

Key Changes

1. Increased Fees for H-1B and L-1 Visas

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed a $4,000 fee for extending H-1B visas and a $4,500 fee for L-1 visa extensions. This marks a substantial increase from the current fee structure and applies to all H-1B and L-1 visa extension petitions. The new fees aim to curb misuse of the visa system while also enhancing security measures.

2. Focus on Employers

Companies with a workforce where more than half (50%) hold H-1B or L-1 visas would be subject to these fees not just for extensions, but also for initial petitions and changes of employers.

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3. Broader Fee Application

Currently, the existing biometric fee only applies to new petitions and employer changes. The proposed amendments aim to extend this fee to all H-1B and L-1 visa extension applications.

Impact on the Indian IT Industry

The H-1B visa program plays a crucial role for Indian IT companies, allowing them to deploy skilled engineers to work on projects in the U.S. Historically, Indians have been the largest beneficiary group for H-1B visas. These new regulations could potentially affect recruitment and deployment strategies for Indian IT firms.

Changes Extend Beyond Initial Petitions

Currently, the 9/11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee, introduced in 2015, applies only to initial visa petitions and employer changes. Under the proposed rules, this fee would be extended to cover all extension petitions for both H-1B and L-1 visas.

This expansion represents a shift in policy, broadening the financial obligations for companies and potentially altering how they manage their workforce in the US.

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Public Input and Implementation

Following the announcement on July 8th, there will be a designated period for public comment. This allows stakeholders, including employers, professionals, and immigration advocacy groups, to provide feedback on the proposed changes before a final ruling is implemented.

The Department of Homeland Security has clarified that the new fees will not be applied to ongoing extensions until the final rules are established.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the upcoming changes by USCIS will reshape the financial landscape for H-1B and L-1 visa holders and their employers. By increasing fees and expanding their applicability, USCIS aims to enhance security and manage these visa categories more effectively.

Stakeholders should participate in the upcoming public comment period to voice their concerns and suggestions.

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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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