Following this year’s dramatic increase in filing fees for sponsors of H1B visas, (up to $4000 now for frequent H1B sponsors) the USCIS announced in October other fee increases that potentially affect H1B visa holders, their spouses and family members.
To be fair, the last fee increases for most of these categories was in 2010, so perhaps an increase was overdue but that won’t help applicants. sponsors and visa holders that will shoulder the cost. Some of the increases are minimal, but it is important to know the correct fees since USCIS will deny your petition unless the exact fee amount is paid.
Forms and Fee Increases Affecting H1B Visa Holders
The following non-immigrant forms will all have fee increases effective December 23, 2016. Not every H1B visa applicant will need all of these forms, and it will depend on their circumstances. If you are planning to apply for residency and a green card, there are other fee increases also in the area of immigrant visas.
- I-129: Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker – Fee Increase from $325 to $460
This is the one form that every H1B petition requires, but the fee is usually paid by the employer/sponsor. This is a 42% increase for a mandatory H1B visa form. Make sure that your sponsor knows the fee has increased if you are submitting your petition after December 23rd, or the petition will be returned without approval or review.
- I-290B: Notice of Appeal or Motion – Fee Increase from $630 to $675
- I-694: Notice of Appeal of Decision – Fee Increase from $755 to $890
Both of these forms could be necessary to file motions or appeals in the event that an H1B visa petition is denied.
- I-539: Application to Extend/ Change Non-immigrant Status – Fee increase from $290 to $370
This form is to be used by any non-immigrant to either change their status or extend their current visa. This includes extensions of H1B visa holders, Fi student visas and spouses of visa holders. The form must be filed at least 45 days before the expiration of stay or need to change visa status.
- I-765: Application for Employment Authorization – Fee Increase from $380 to $410
This form must be filed by H1B visa holders to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which shows permission work in the US. It is basically a ‘work permit’ card.
Spouses of H1B visa holders can enter the US and reside under an H-4 visa. For I-765 is also available if the spouse wishes to work but there are some restrictions. The spouse would need to obtain an EAD through an approved I-765 form.
Other Significant Fee Increases by USCIS
In addition to the forms and fees listed above, there are other increases to be aware of, especially if an H1B visa holder is planning to seek residency. One of the biggest increases is Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, which jumped from $1500 to $3675. Another significant fee increase is Form I-698, Application to Adjust Status From Temporary to Permanent Resident (increased from $1020 to $1670).
Why a Fee Increase?
The USCIS justifies the fee increases to cover the costs of administering all of its immigration programs. Apparently, government funding for USCIS has decreased, placing the cost burden on those who wish to either visit, work or immigrate to the US.
For most H1B first time applicants, the US sponsoring company is required to pay most of the fees (except for a spouse or dependents), so this round of fee increases should not be a deterrent to seeking a position and sponsor. If you have questions about the H1B work visa and finding a sponsor, please contact us.
- December 30th, 2016