White House gets plan to hike H-1B fees 22%, L-1 77%

PUNE: A final proposal on visa fee increase, submitted by the US immigration agency last week with the US President’s office, is expected to hike the cost of an H-1B visa by 22% and that of the L-1 visa — used by technology companies to transfer employees between offices — by as much as 77%.

The US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Immigration and Regulatory Affairs.

Although the timelines of the fee hike are unclear, the USCIS is currently facing a funding crisis on account of a sharp drop in visa fee income. ET reported last week that the USCIS may have to furlough at least half of its 18,700 employees if its demand for $1.2 billion in government funding is not met by July.

Immigration attorneys, who did not want to be named, said that an attempt would be made to “finalise this ruling soon.”

The proposal to hike fees was first put forth in November 2019, and it recommends different fees for Form I-129, depending on the visa category.

This will result in the base fee for the H-1B visa increasing by 22% to $560 and for the L-1 intra-company transfer visa by 77% to $815.

Further, it targets what are known as 50-50 companies, or companies that have over 50 employees of which 50% or more are on non-immigrant visas like the H-1B or L-1.

It proposes an additional fee of $4,000 for every visa extension petition from these companies, which will significantly up the visa costs for most Indian services companies operating in the United States.

India’s software lobby body Nasscom had said that the move to increase fees was illegal since only the US Congress had the authority to do so.

Two other pro-immigration bodies, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (AIC), had jointly asked the US government to withdraw the proposal saying it would hurt US businesses.

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