On January 4, 2023, USCIS proposed a rule which would dramatically increase immigration filing fees, particularly for employment-based petitioners. The rule is over 200 pages long.

The agency will accept public comments on the proposed rule through March 6, 2023.

USCIS is a largely fee-based agency, not funded by the government. The backlog of pending applications has increased enormously since 2016 when the agency last increased its filing fees. The number of unadjudicated asylum applications has grown from several hundred thousand to over 1.6 million. The number of pending petitions and applications for other immigration benefits is enormous.

In order to hire thousands of additional examiners to review applications, interview applicants for immigration benefits, particularly for asylum cases, and make decisions in their cases, the agency intends to raise the required funds by increasing filing fees, particularly for employment-based petitions and applications.

The proposed filing fee increases are projected to boost revenues for the USCIS by over $4.5 billion.
Highlights of the Proposed Rule
  • The fee for H-1B Cap Registration would be raised from $10 to $215 per registration.
  • Premium processing times would be lengthened from 15 calendar days to 15 business days. Weekends and holidays would no longer be included thereby increasing the time for the USCIS to respond.
  • A new “Asylum Program Fee” of $600 would be added in addition to the newly increased Form I-129 and Form I-140 filing fees.
  • The fee for an H-1B petition for a professional employee would be raised from $460 to $780 not including the additional $600 Asylum Program Fee.
  • The fee for an L-1 petition for an intracompany transferee would be increased from $460 to $1385 not including the additional $600 Asylum Program Fee.
  • Applicants for Adjustment of Status would no longer be eligible for one bundled fee for forms I-485, I-765 (EAD) and I-131 (AP).
  • In many cases, filing fees for online applications would be less than filing paper-based applications.
  • For EB-5 investors, filing fees for form I-526 and I-526E would be raised from $3,675 to $11,160. The fee for Form I-829 to transition from a 2-year conditional to a permanent green card for an EB-5 investor would be increased from $3,835 to $9,525.
Evaluation of the Proposed Rule

It is obvious that because of a lack of federal funding, the principal objective of the proposed rule is to get employers who sponsor professionals for temporary visas and green cards to pay billions of dollars to fund the asylum program.

Although a reasonable increase in filing fees is clearly warranted, this proposal is unfair.

Most of these employers receive no benefits from the asylum program and it is unfair to penalize them for the failure of Congress to appropriate the required funds to adjudicate asylum applications.

Even worse, not all sponsoring employers have the funds to pay the increased filing fees. Many universities and non-profit organizations will no longer be able to sponsor researchers for visas and green cards.

Also, a large number of health care providers and hospitals in medically-underserved areas will not be able to sponsor needed physicians, nurses and other health care professionals. Over 25% of our country is medically underserved, and the shortage of primary care physicians and registered nurses numbers in the hundreds of thousands and continues to rise.

American citizens are already severely impacted by our shortage of doctors and nurses, and are heavily dependent on foreign-born MDs and RNs for their care. The USCIS rule would only make things worse.

Increased filing fees for adjustment of status and related applications will unfairly penalize thousands of immigrant families, many of whom have waited in line for years.

As a former INS Attorney, I understand that the agency desperately needs more funding. However, not only is it unfair to drastically increase filing fees, it is contrary to our national interest to do so.

Bottom line: Congress must step up and provide the required funds for the USCIS to do it’s job.

The charts below contain a summary of some of the proposed filing fee increases. A complete chart is included in USCIS’s proposed rule.

Filing Fee Chart For Nonimmigrant Petitions and Applications

Form Current Fee Proposed Fee Percent Increase
Asylum Program Fee for I-129 Petitions None $600 This is in addition to the proposed fee increases noted below for I-129 petitions.
H-1B Registration Fee $10 $215 2050%
I-129 for H-1B $460 $780 70%
I-129 for H-2A Named Beneficiaries $460 $1,090 137%
I-129 for H-2B Named Beneficiaries $460 $1,080 135%
I-129 for L $460 $1,385 201%
I-129 for O $460 $1,055 129%
I-129 for E, H-3, P, Q & R $460 $1,015 121%
I-129F for Fiance(e) $535 $720 35%
I-539 EOS & COS – Online $370 $525 42%*
I-539 EOS & COS – Paper $370 $620 68%*

Filing Fee Chart For Immigrant Petitions and Applications

Form Current Fee Proposed Fee Percent Increase
Asylum Program Fee for I-140 Petitions None $600 This is in addition to the proposed fee increase noted below for I-140 petitions.
I-140 Employment-Based Petition $700 $715 2%
I-526 for Direct EB-5 Investor $3,675 $11,160 204%
I-526 for EB-5 Investor in Regional Center $3,675 $11,160 204%
I-956 for EB-5 Regional Center Designation $17,795 $47,695 168%
I-526G for EB-5 Regional Center Annual Statement $3,035 $4,470 47%
I-485 Adjustment of Status** $1,140 $1,540 35%
I-765 for EAD – Online $410 $555 35%*
I-765 for EAD – Paper Filing $410 $650 59%*
I-131 for Advance Parole $575 $630 10%
Biometrics Fee
The proposed fee for TPS & EOIR applicants only, the proposed fee is $30
$85 No increase for most applicants 0%
Total Fees for I-485, I-765 & I-131 (Paper filing) and biometrics $1,225 $2,820 130%
I-130 Petition for a Family Member $535 $710 33%
*The percentage reflects the change from the current base filing fee, exclusive of separate biometrics fee.
**For adult applicant, exclusive of separate biometric fee.

Filing Fee Chart For Citizenship Applications

Form Current Fee Proposed Fee Percent Increase
N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention $270 $320 19%
N-336 Appeal of Naturalization Denial $700 $830 19%
N-400 Application for Naturalization $640 $760 19%
N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization $355 $425 20%
N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship $1,170 $1,385 18%
N-600K Application for Citizenship & Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 $1,170 $1,385 18%