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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Thursday, February 01, 2024

H-1B Lottery Revamp, Higher Visa Fees Finalized in New Rules (1)

Final rules hiking fees for employment-based visas and overhauling the lottery process for H-1B speciality occupation visas were released Tuesday by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The fee update would be the first time visa costs at USCIS have been adjusted since 2016. The almost entirely fee-funded agency has faced pressure from a growing humanitarian workload on top of operating employment and family-based immigration programs. The rule will be effective April 1. The agency’s other final rule will base H-1B lottery selections on unique beneficiaries rather than the number of registrations submitted on their behalf by employers—an effort by USCIS in part to weed out attempts to game the system. Video: A Brief History of the H-1B Visa (Published in 2019) That rule for visas heavily used by the tech sector will be effective in time for the fiscal year 2025 registration period that will run from noon ET March 6 to noon ET March 22. Employment-based users would shoulder the biggest increases under the fee rule, which was released in draft form a year ago. Registration fees for H-1B visas, for example, would rise from $10 to $215. USCIS said a review of current fees concluded they fell short of covering the cost of agency operations, including the expansion of humanitarian programs and mandated pay increases. “For the first time in over seven years, USCIS is updating our fees to better meet the needs of our agency, enabling us to provide more timely decisions to those we serve,” said Ur Jaddou, the agency’s director, in a statement. “Despite years of inadequate funding, the USCIS workforce has made great strides in customer service, backlog reduction, implementing new processes and programs, and upholding fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve.” Fees in the final rule largely mirrored those in the proposed rule released last year, although the agency added several fee exemptions and discounts for certain applicants. Among changes based on public comments, fee exemptions for victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and other crimes were expanded, as well as those for service members, Afghan allies, and families seeking international adoption. The rule also offers 50% discounts for work permits for green card applicants and lowers adjustment of status fees for some children under 14. And it expands eligibility for reduced fees for naturalization to low-income applicants. The agency released an FAQ document on its website explaining how fee increases will affect specific visa categories. Immigrant advocacy groups successfully sued to block the most recent attempt to update fees under the Trump administration. They argued that rule harmed low-income immigrants and violated the Administrative Procedure Act. For more information, visit us at https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/h-1b-lottery-overhaul-higher-visa-fees-finalized-in-new-rules.

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