US immigration department proposes massive hike in visa application fees
The hike is proposed to recover operating costs, reestablish and maintain timely case processing, and prevent the accumulation of future case backlogs.
The United States on Tuesday proposed a steep hike in immigration fees, including those pertaining to H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers, to recover costs required to run its operations.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services said on Tuesday that the hike is being introduced to “fully recover its operating costs, reestablish and maintain timely case processing, and prevent the accumulation of future case backlogs.”
Under the new proposal, the application fees for the H-1B visa will increase from $460 (Rs 38,054) to $780 (Rs 64,527), and L-1 from $460 to $1,385 (Rs 1,14,578). The application fee for O-1 visas has been proposed to be increased from $460 to $1,055 (Rs 87,278).
An O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for those who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
An L-1 visa is issued when an employer files a petition to obtain authorization for qualified employees to be allowed to work and live in the United States. Majority of technology companies in the US depend on H-1B visa to hire employees from countries like India and China.
Meanwhile, application fees to change temporary visas into permanent residency or green cards, would also increase from $1,225 (Rs 1,01,267) to $1,540 (Rs 1,27,307).
The immigration department said that fees hike is required since it receives nearly 96% of its funding from visa filing fees, and not from funds set aside by the US Congress. The agency also said that the Covid-19 pandemic caused a drop in visa applications which had led to a drop in its revenue by 40%.
“The proposed rule would increase some fees, including a modest increase in the fee for certain naturalization applications, while preserving existing fee waiver eligibility for low-income and vulnerable populations and adding new fee exemptions for certain humanitarian programs,” the US Citizenship and Immigration Services said.
“If finalized, the proposed rule would decrease or minimally increase fees for more than one million low-income filers each year.”