Gee & Zhang LLP anticipates numerous and significant immigration developments over the coming months as the government continues to push through new immigration policies and deal with COVID-19 and the U.S. economic recovery. Given the rapid and increasing number of immigration changes, we have consolidated summaries of recent key items of interest to your business and employees.
USCIS Fee Increases
USCIS will change its filing fees effective October 2, 2020. The final rule increases government fees by a weighted average of 20% overall. While certain fees decreased, others increased by more than 500%. Form I-129 fees are now broken down separately by particular visa classification sought. Notable fee changes for employers include an H-1B increase from $460 to $555, an L-1 increase from $460 to $805, a Form I-140 decrease from $700 to $555, and an Adjustment of Status application that includes work authorization and advance parole will increase from $1,225 total to $2,270 total.
USCIS did not increase the Premium Processing fee of $1440 as part of this update. However, it did change the length of the Premium Processing window from 15 calendar days to 15 business days. This change will add a week to the time it takes to receive an initial response from USCIS after filing. If a Request for Evidence is issued, it will also add an additional week to issue the final decision.
We encourage employers to file eligible cases before October 2, 2020 to benefit from the current rules. You can share with your employees that eligible permanent residents interested in applying for U.S. citizenship will save money if they file before October 2nd. The fee for naturalization will almost double from $640 to $1,160.
New H-1B Lottery Registrations
Gee & Zhang LLP received additional H-1B registration selections on August 14, 2020. USCIS’s new electronic H-1B registration system was designed to allow more registrations to be selected in a second lottery, if USCIS received insufficient numbers of H-1B filings. Gee & Zhang LLP is contacting employers as it is notified of new H-1B selections. Employers can also check the status of their pending H-1B registrations by logging into their USCIS online accounts.
Potential USCIS Furloughs on August 30th
USA Today and Forbes report USCIS plans to furlough approximately 13,000 of its 20,000 person workforce on August 30, 2020. The agency announced similar plans to furlough workers in July, but the furloughs were postponed in hopes of additional funding from Congress. As talks regarding additional funding have stalled, a vast reduction in services is looming. Employers should expect delays and/or disruption of certain immigration services if furloughs go into effect. Employers and affected individuals may wish to contact their congressional representatives to let them know the vital role continued immigration services play in their businesses and communities.
If you have any questions regarding how changes may impact your U.S. immigration program or case, please contact Gee & Zhang LLP.