USCIS Fee increase info from October 2020

USCIS Fee increases from Oct 2020 – H1B, H4, L1, EAD, GC Changes

In US Immigration - Visas by KumarUpdated : 4 Comments

USCIS is a feed funded organization and 97% of its budget comes from filing fees collected by them. In June 2020, they said they are short on budget and could furlough 13,000 employees. In July 2020, after further review, they said they have budget surplus and Senate sent a letter to USCIS not to furlough anyone and they plan to address the deficit for FY 2021 year.  Today they announced fee increase from October 2020. In this article, we cover the fee increase information related to H1B, H4, L1, F1 visa holders and Adjustment of Status applicants.

Background – Why USCIS increasing Fee?

As USCIS is a fee funded organization, they review the application fee and operations cost every two years and revise the fee accordingly. This is a normal process, previous they increased average fee by 21% in December 2016. For the fee increase, there was a rule published in Federal Register for fee increase seeking public comments. As an outcome of all of that, today USCIS announced fee changes and they said overall average increase of fee is about 20%.

The fee increase is weighted average, meaning not every form fee will go up by 20%, for some it will be lower, for some it maybe higher.  Also, USCIS estimates that their fee shortage is about $1.036 Billion Dollars based on their study, below screenshot shows the revenue vs budget for last two years.  In below table, IEFA means Immigration Examinations Fee Account. All the fee that USCIS gets will be deposited in IEFA account.

USCIS Budget Deficit Table FY 2020-19
USCIS Budget and Revenue info for non premium FY 2019-20

Now that we know the background, let’s look at the details.

Summary of USCIS Fee increases for H1B, H4, L1, Green Card, EAD

USCIS final rule for fee increase document is 576 pages. It has details about all the changes, calculations, reasons and explanation for comments from users on the fee changes.  To make it easy for everyone, below are key points that are relevant to H1B, H4, L1, L2, F1, and Green Card processing like Adjustment of Status.

General Fee Changs Info

  • Effective Date for USCIS Fee Changes: October 2, 2020
  • Biometrics Fee: The Biometrics fee is going down from $85 to $30. 
  • Removing exemptions: USCIS is removing fee exemptions, changing its fee waiver requirements for few types of the forms.
  • Online Form Submission: USCIS is reducing the fee by $10 for all the forms that are submitted online. This is to encourage people to use the online system and avoid mistakes. It can be used for forms like I-539 and many others.
  • Appeal / Motion to Re-open: The appeals and motion to re-open/ reconsider fee has not changed much. It is up by 4% and now at $700.

H1B, H4, L1, L2, F1, EAD Fee Changes

  • H1B, L1, H4, L2 Fee Changes:  The base filing fee for H1B, L1 that use form I-129 will go up by about 20%.  Also, the fee for H4, L2 dependents using form I-539 will go up by 8%.  The other fees related to H1B Visa have not changed like AICWA Fee, Fraud detection fee, etc.
  • EAD Fee – H4, L2, F1 OPT, STEM OPT : Employment Authorization Document (EAD) fee filed using form I-765 and used by certain H4 holders, L2, F1 OPT students and F1 STEM OPT students is going up by 34%. The new EAD fee will be $550 USD going forward.  

USCIS Green Card Process Forms Fee Increase

  • Immigration Petition (I-140) for H1B, L1 : The immigrant petition for alien worker fee, which is filed as part of Green Card process, for I-140 has reduced by 21% and the new fee is $555.
  • Adjustment of Status (AOS), Advance Parole: Green Card applicants, who file for Adjustment of Status (AOS) using I-485 have to pay new fee for EAD (employment authorization document) and Advance Parole(AP) travel document. In the past, AOS applicants could file for EAD and AP document every two years without paying fee, now they need to pay fee.
    • Also, the fee for children was $750 before, now it is same for everyone and set to $1140.
    • Total Fee for Adjustment of Status using I-485 + EAD + Advance parole is $2,270. The total was about $1,140 before as there was no fee for EAD, AP

Premium Processing – H1B, Others Time Limit Change

The USCIS Premium processing time limits or Service Level Agreements(SLA) are changed from 15 calendar days to 15 business days. So, technically you are moving to 21 calendar days or 3 weeks.  This is a big change as many rely on Premium Processing, so you need to plan ahead.

There are a lot more changes in the fee for various other visa types and forms. You can check our Federal Register Fee Increase Page

H1B, H4, L1, F1, GC Fee Changes Table

Visa Type – Fee Description USCIS FormCurrent FeeNew FeeChange (USD)Change (%)
H1B Visa – Base filing feeI-129$460$555$95+21%
L1 Visa – Base filing feeI-129$460$555$95+21%
H4, L2 Visa – Paper based filing feeI-539$370$400$30+8%
H4, L2 Visa – Online filing feeI-539$370$390$20+5%
Biometrics Fee ( H4, L2) $85$30– $55-65 %
Immigrant Petition for H1B, othersI-140$700$555– $145-21%
EAD (H4, L2, F1 OPT, STEM OPT)I-765$410$550$140+34%
Adjustment of Status for Green CardI-485$1,140$1,130– $10-1%
Adjustment of Status for kidsI-485$750$1,130 $380+51%
EAD (Adjustment of Status)I-765$0$550$550New
Advance Parole (AOS Travel Doc)I-131$0$590$590New
Naturalization (paper filing)N-400$640$1170$850+266%
USCIS Fee changes for H1B, H4, AOS, other Summary Table

Common FAQs

I have already filed USCIS form and in process, does it apply to me?

No, the fee changes are only applicable to forms that are submitted on or after October 2nd. It will not apply to existing petitions that are already filed with USCIS.

The AOS Fee has gone up with EAD, AP fee now, will USCIS process faster?

Well, the fee increase does not mean they will process faster.  It all depends on their load and they may not really process it faster as it is not premium processing.

Will USCIS still be furloughed even with Fee increases?

At this point we cannot say. Senate sent a letter to USCIS stating that that they will help cover the budget gaps for FY 2021 that starts from October 1st. With some of the fee increases, they may not go into furloughs.  Again, let’s wait and see.

Do you think Green Card Applications will reduce with Fees for EAD, AP?

No, it may not really have any impact. Many wait for years to do AOS, and they would not turn down an opportunity for Green Card with these fee increases.

What do you think of the Fee Changes ?

   

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Concerned

    With Premium processing time increasing by a week it will get even more difficult to change jobs now. They increase the fees and the processing time. Not reasonable at all.

  2. Krshh

    Its time hard working immigrants/non-immigrants make them sweat for the stress they given with unnecessary rfe’s and their ignorant policies/(1 day extensions after 6 months of delay), unnecessary delays, I doubt many of them even passed high school. Now they are feeling the heat, but if you think with cool head many of the applicants were bearing this heat for several years despite paying high fees and high taxes, actually can sue them for the stress they given all these years. None is noticing the pain they gone through these years can run them nuts with lawsuits.

  3. Jagdish Kumar

    If USCIS works on Self Financing mode, there is no rational to delay processing of these applications on any ground. Eligible applications be processed and decided on a time bound manner strictly as per Rules in vogue. Even if further compliance is required, it should be asked for and acted upon with same speed. USCIS be made answerable for any delay on their part.

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