The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has proposed a 10% increase in H1-B petition’s filing fees. This increase in fees may potentially be extended to other non-immigrant visa applications as well.
USCIS declared that their financial reserves have reached serious depletion levels and increasing certain fees is one way to mitigate these losses. They have also requested the US congress for a $1.2 billion sustenance package to bail them out.
Currently, the agency has limited its spending to salary and “mission critical activities” only.
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This loss is revenue comes in light of the several operational changes made to different immigration processes in the recent past and is exacerbated by the Coronavirus lockdown that prompted immigration bans and travel restrictions by the US government.
Several policies changes added additional processes and work hours on behalf of the workers at USCIS. This put burden on to the already existing processing backlogs, especially for green card petitioners. Laid off or furloughed USCIS workers will only increase processing delays further.
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Moreover, immigration restrictions enforced by the US government in the recent years has reduced the number of petitions into the US immigration system. USCIS which is 92% dependent upon the fees generated from these applications for its operations and employee salaries, has suffered because of a lack of incoming funds.
USCIS anticipates that by September 2020, they will be running at a 61% loss if they do not get financial support immediately. With President Trump’s 60-day executive order banning incoming green cards holders to the US, this loss has been even more pronounced.
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Besides work visas for foreign skilled workers, this increase in fees is bound to impact green card applications, asylum screenings, and naturalizations.
H1-B 2021 lottery cap application deadline is approaching on June 30, 2020. Starting March 30 to June 30, applicants chosen from the initial online registration are to file their completed H1-B petitions for the final lottery. It is safe to assume that this fee hike will not impact these applications.
When Coronavirus was declared a pandemic and the US government declared it a national emergency, by March USCIS offices had suspended in-person services across the country and over 13,000 USCIS employees have been working remotely since then.
The US government has not commented about the revenue loss to USCIS or approved the $1.2 billion request yet. Stay tuned for the latest updates on fee changes.