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On Friday, July 31st United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it would be adjusting fees for certain immigration and naturalization benefit requests to “ensure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recovers its costs of services.” This news will affect a number of fees relating to various visa petitions including for the O-1 visa, and will go into effect on October 2nd, 2020. 

This news will directly affect Form I-129, or Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and will separate the form into several forms with different corresponding fees depending on the visa type. Previously the fee for Form I-129 was set at $460, though according to this new rule change, the following fees will be organized by worker type, and are as follows:

  • Form I-129H1, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-1 Classifications -$555
  • Form I-129H2A, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-2A Classification (Named Beneficiaries) – $850
  • Form I-129H2B, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-2B Classification (Named Beneficiaries) – $715
  • Form I-129L, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: L Classifications – $805
  • Form I-129O, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: O Classifications – $705
  • I-129E&TN, Application for Nonimmigrant Worker: E and TN Classifications; and I-129MISC, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-3, P, Q, or R Classification – $695
  • Form I-129H2A, Petition for Nonimmigrant Work Classification: H-2A Classification (Unnamed Beneficiaries) – $415
  • Form I-129H2B, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-2B Classification (Unnamed Beneficiaries) – $385
  • Form I-129

This final rule also encourages online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit forms online that are electronically available from USCIS. Online filing is the most secure, efficient, cost-effective and convenient way to submit a request with USCIS.

After a comprehensive biennial fee review, USCIS determined that the current fees do not cover the cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services. The Department of Homeland Security is subsequently adjusting USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 20% to help recover its operational costs. Current fees would leave the agency underfunded by about $1 billion per year. 

Unlike other government agencies, USCIS is funded by fees. These fees account for nearly 97% of USCIS’ budget. 

According to USCIS – filing fees “accounts for increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud, and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners and beneficiaries. The rule also supports payroll, technology and operations to accomplish the USCIS mission. The rule removes certain fee exemptions, includes new nominal fees for asylum applicants, and reduces fee waivers to help recover the costs of adjudication.”

We are closely monitoring this news and will provide updates as they become available. If this news affects your visa plans, please contact your D’Alessio Law Group professional.

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