The US government is proposing a new bill that will have a huge impact on both legal and undocumented immigrants. The Budget Reconciliation Bill also known as the Build Back Better Act is expected to go on the floor for a vote soon. If passed, it would mean a massive increase in filing fees and an expedited path to permanent residency for thousands of Indian nationals who are in line for a US green card.
The majority Democratic party wants to pass a $1.75 trillion bill that will reshape the economic structure of America and provide lots of added economic support to its people. However, the lawmakers can include these proposed ideas only if it either raises revenue or add to the deficit. In order to achieve this, the bill will propose various hikes in immigration filing fees and other expenses at the cost of immigrants. But the Bill also proposes certain provisions in favor of the immigrant population.
US President Biden has asked for a $100 billion investment to reform the nation’s immigration system, reduce backlogs, expand legal representation and make changes to the asylum system and border processing. Below we assess the anticipated changes if the Budget Reconciliation Bill passes the Senate vote.
Impact of the Budget Reconciliation Bill On H1-B Visa Applicants
This Bill, if passed will introduce a series of supplementary fees and filing fee hikes for H1-B petitioners. This will put into place a supplementary $500 charge on each H-1B visa petition filed by a company. The current filing fees for a basic H1-B visa petition per employee is $460. The hike would result in an initial filing fees of $960. Based on getting selected, the company can send their employees on-site to the US branch.
Impact of the Budget Reconciliation Bill On Green Card Holders
The new Bill proposes a series of provisions that will hugely benefit the backlogged green card applicants. Scores of Indian petitioners are waiting in queue for over a decade now. The wait time for newer applicants is estimated to be even longer than 75 years now.
- Under the current proposal, some employment-based green card applicants who have been waiting in the backlog for at least two years will be able to pay a $5,000 supplemental fee to waive the annual and per-country limitations and become permanent residents.
- Family-based applicants who have been waiting at least two years may apply to waive the limitations with an additional fee of $2,500.
- Last year, USCIS wasted several thousands of green cards because of slow processing and pandemic related delays. If the Bill is passed in its current state without any further alterations, they will recover more than one million green cards previously authorized by Congress that have gone unused since 1992.
Impact of the Budget Reconciliation Bill On Other Immigrant Categories
The Budget Reconciliation Bill is increasing filing fees for other immigration categories and visa petitions as well. These include employment authorization (EAD) forms for immediate relatives of non-immigrant visa holders like H4 visas, and/or OPT applicants.
The expected increase would result in an additional $500 for –
- employment authorization forms for spouses of certain non-immigrant visa holders
- students for their optional practical training (OPT) and
- non-immigrant visa holders applying for an adjustment of status, to become a permanent US citizen.
- $50,000 for EB-5 visa, immigrant investors who have more than two years for their green cards. This is aimed at Chinese nationals
Lastly, a new fee of $250 for student visas, which the educational institution would have to bear.
Impact of the Budget Reconciliation Bill On Undocumented Immigrants
The Budget Reconciliation Bill makes a valiant effort to defend the undocumented immigrant. The bill intends to extend more protection for undocumented immigrants than ever before. While the Bill doesn’t support a pathway to citizenship, an estimated 7 million people would still be eligible for relief.
- Certain undocumented will be eligible for ‘Parole’. This will allow undocumented immigrants who entered the United States prior to January 2011 to get temporary protection from deportation.
- They will also get work permits. The eligibility criteria is yet to be ascertained.
- The Bill proposes to change the registry date from 1972 to 2010 for the legalization of immigrants. Moving the registry date up would make millions more who were in the US before that date eligible for lawful permanent residence.
- It also has a provision for $300 per child benefit for children of undocumented parents. This would be similar to the Covid related financial assistance and available until 2022.
The overall Bill supports undocumented immigrants but at the cost of legal immigration. After all the additional charges are calculated, and attorney fees, RFE response fees and H1-B extension fee is added on, employers sponsoring their employees to come onsite to the US will end up paying close to $30,000 per employee. Smaller organizations will gravely suffer. However, in the end, DHS will find the money it requires to smoothen out the US immigration process.
Stay tuned to this space as we track the entire proposal, count the Senate votes on US Congress’ floor and analyze the final Bill.