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USCIS increases employment-based visa costs

A revised fee schedule that went into effect on April 1 will make obtaining a green card or work visa significantly more expensive. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says higher fees are needed to prevent backlogs and cover the costs of administering permanent residency and visa programs. The agency relies on these fees as it receives only 4% of its funding from congressional appropriations.

Judge denies motion

The revised fees have increased the costs of obtaining employment visas by as much as 300%. An employers group sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the fee increases from going into effect, but a judge denied their motion. The $10 registration fee paid by employers seeking H-1B visas has been increased to $215, and the cost of the visa has increased by $320 to $780. Companies seeking employment-based visas will also have to pay a new $600 Asylum Program Fee.

Employer survey

A survey of employers conducted by an immigration law firm reveals that employers are far from happy with the new immigration fee schedule. More than four in 10 of the respondents said that the higher costs would hamper their ability to compete in global markets. When asked how the increased costs would affect their hiring practices, 40% of the respondents said that they would either seek fewer employment visas or curtail their employee benefits plans.

Keeping American companies competitive

Employment-based visa programs allow employers to hire skilled foreign workers to fill specialized positions. These visas were introduced to keep American companies competitive in global markets, but the cost of obtaining them increased sharply on April 1. The results of an employer survey suggest that up to 40% of the American companies that rely on these visa programs could hire fewer foreign workers as a result of the price increases.

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