Here is a huge update on immigration policies i.e. the H-1B visa fees are being overhauled. This is the very first change since 2016.
The major transitions have been granted after the final review in the White House which will be officially announced soon.
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Major Changes in cost: How much an H1B visa & Green card will cost?
Relatively, the new rule calls for the attention of those petitioners willing to submit petitions for employment-based visas. There’ll be a hike of around 40% for H-1B specialty occupation visas, which is exactly $215 (the H-1B cap lottery registration fee).
This has jeopardized both temporary and permanent work visa holders’ status as the major burden lay on their petitioners. In January 2023, a proposal called Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) was introduced. It suggested a significant increase in fees for various visa-related applications.
“DHS accepted public comments on the proposed version of this fee rule from early January 2023 to early March 2023. The specific contents of the final regulation will only be known when the final rule is released for publication in the Federal Register. However, the proposed rule provides some indication of the changes likely to be included in the final version,” says Mitch Wexler, a partner in a global immigration law firm at Fragomen.
If the final rule echoes the changes proposed in January 2023, Form I-129 would also increase, from $460 to $780 for H-1B petitions.
Alert for the H-1B sponsors– Premium Processing Fees Hike for H-1B Applications
Employers who’re sponsoring H-1B applications must pay heed to a serious concern that the immigration agency of the United States doesn’t pause at increasing fees of H-1B visas or of related categories.
The premium processing fees for H-1B applications are also proposed to rise by 12% to reach $2,805 (for Form I-129, a petition for a nonimmigrant worker such as those on H-1B and L-1 visas), increase to $1,965 from the present $1,750 (for Form I-539) from the beginning of February 26.
The NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) also suggested fee increases for citizenship (naturalization) from $640 to $760, which is a 19% increase. Furthermore, significant proposed hikes have been outlined for EB-5 investors who’re partaking in the investment-linked green card program.
The NPRM suggests a significant increase in fees for initial I-526 petitions and I-829 petitions. The fees for I-526 petitions could go up to $11,160, which is a 204% increase, while the fees for I-829 petitions could increase by 148% to reach $9,535. The actual impact of such transitions, however, will be realized only after the rule is published officially.
One of the great blessings for the H-1B visa applicants seeking renewal of their work visa is the pilot program cleared by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) that allows the applicant to remain in the U.S. and not travel abroad to accomplish the renewal task.
This pilot program is a significant step towards reintroducing domestic visa issuance.
The progress made by the US Department of State on this issue is being closely monitored by the international community. The reintroduction of US visa stamping within America would be a welcome development for visa applicants around the world. By streamlining the visa renewal process, the program can help to reduce costs, save time, and minimize disruption to businesses.
Why did they introduce or test the pilot program to renew US visas within the USA?
The pilot program to renew US visas within the USA is introduced for the following reasons:
To secure applicants’ time and expense of traveling out of the country for visa stamping.
To reduce the long wait times for US visa appointments and processing times at consular offices outside of the US.
To address the challenges faced by visa applicants during the pandemic, such as inconveniences in obtaining appointments in their home countries and getting stuck within the US.
To grant more options for visa holders living in the US.
To respond sensibly to concerns raised by trade organizations, immigration lawyers, and business groups about the challenges faced by their clients or employees due to long wait times at US consulates abroad.
Note: The US Department of State has stated that the primary reason why they failed to introduce domestic visa renewals last year was the challenge of setting up a consular division in Washington, D.C.
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