The U.S. Department of State raised the fees charged for issuance of nonimmigrant visas (e.g., L-1, H-1B) on June 4. Citing increased costs for processing visas, the State Department abandoned the single fee of $131 for a new tiered structure with higher fees being charged for more complicated visa applications. Most employment-related visas (H-1B, L-1, O-1) now have a $150 fee, while business visitor/tourist (B-1/B-2), student (F-1/M-1) and exchange visitor (J-1) visas have a $140 fee. Note that country-specific reciprocity fees may still apply and are in addition to the basic nonimmigrant visa fee. For more information on visa fees, visit the agency’s website.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposed federal rule that would increase fees for most immigration benefit applications and petitions by an average of 10 percent (see the fact sheet for more information). The agency cited less than projected fee collections in 2008 and 2009 as a primary reason for a shortfall. Although a few fees would be reduced under the proposal, the filing fees for primary employer-sponsored petition forms would increase. The I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (used for H-1B, H-2B, O-1 and L-1 petitions, among others) would be increased from $320 to $325. The I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (used for most employer-sponsored green cards) would be raised from $475 to $580. The proposed rule first must be held open for a public comment period through July 26. As a result, enactment of the new fee schedule is likely a few months away.