US | Understanding the Proposed USCIS Fee Schedule Changes

On January 4, 2023, USCIS published a proposed rule updating their fee schedule for immigration benefits and applications. USCIS is required by law to conduct a comprehensive fee review and adjust fees as needed to cover the cost of adjudication services. The proposed fees consider USCIS’s current operating expenses and the funds needed to improve USCIS’s customer service. Although they are required by law to conduct a comprehensive fee review, USCIS has not increased fees since 2016.

Fee Change History & Litigation

The Trump administration attempted to increase USCIS fees, but in 2020 the Trump USCIS fee schedule was blocked by federal courts. The Biden administration is well aware of the potential for federal court intervention and appears to have drafted the proposed fee rule in response to the concerns of the courts. The Biden administration is also expected to follow the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by closely considering public comments before finalizing the USCIS fee schedule.

  • The most significant USCIS fee increases were levied on EB-5 Investor petitions and related applications.
  • The H-1B Pre-Registration fee increased significantly from $10 to $215.
Go Deeper

As an explanation, USCIS states that the increased H-1B Pre-Registration fee is needed to fund the registration process. Still, the increased fee may also dissuade individuals from entering the H-1B lottery multiple times. Fees for L, O, H-2B, and H-1B nonimmigrant worker petitions are proposed to nearly double, but fees for Immigrant Petitions for Alien Workers will remain the same.

Notably, USCIS has significantly increased certain fees for applications filed by paper (i.e., Form I-485, Application for Permanent Residence) as a way to encourage applicants to file online and to accommodate the additional workload required for processing paper filings.

Next Steps

Members of the public will have 60 days to submit public comments on the proposed rule. USCIS will review public comments and is expected to publish a final rule in late 2023. Implementation of the increased fees is expected shortly after final publication, likely in early 2024. USCIS published frequently asked questions guidance on their website and will hold a public listening session on January 11, 2023, to receive public feedback on the proposed fee rule.

Erickson Insights

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to share updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.