No fee hikes for H-1B visas as US court blocks USCIS from implementing wide-ranging rules
The fee hike, if implemented, would have increased the fees of H-1B and L visa holders by 20 percent and 75 percent respectively. The current fee for the visas stand at $460 and will be retained for the time being.
September 30, 2020 / 09:31 PM IST
The fee hikes that were set to take effect from October 2 under new rules from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were stopped by a US Federal Court on September 29.
The case was filed by the Immigrant Legal Resource Centre and eight other organisations against Chad F Wolf, acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in August against the fee hikes. These hikes were set to be imposed under a final rule approved by the DHS.
Judge Jeffrey S White in the judgement concluded that it was appropriate to stay the effective date of the framed final rule, and denied the government’s request for a brief administrative stay.
The order said, “A stay beyond October 2, 2020, would allow the final rule to go into effect, thereby altering the status quo. For that reason, the Court denies Defendants’ request for a brief administrative stay. If Defendants do file an appeal, nothing in this Order shall preclude them from filing a motion to stay before this Court.”
This will be a huge relief to immigrants and temporary work visa holders.
The fee hike, if implemented, would have increased the fees of H-1B and L visa holders by 20 percent and 75 percent respectively. The current fee for the visas stand at $460. It would increase to $555 and $805 for H-1B and L-1 respectively.
Companies that have more than 50 employees and over 50 percent of the workforce on H-1B or L-1 would have pay an additional $4000 or $4500, respectively, as visa fees, denting Indian tech workers' prospects in Silicon Valley.
Immigration lawyers have also pointed out that the fee hikes will increase the cost of family-based green card to $2830 from $1760 and citizenship would increase to $1170 from $640. This would particularly impact asylum seekers since the DHS' final rule did away with a fee waiver for asylum seekers who are seeking employment.