The Omnibus Spending/Budget Bill (“Bill”) that Congress passed today contained many significant immigration components, including extensions of the following vital programs:
- The EB-5 Regional Center Program through September 30, 2016
- The CONRAD 30 J-1 Waiver program (supporting the placement of international medical graduates on J-1 visas in medically underserved areas)
- The Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker program.
The Bill did not incorporate efforts to shut down refugee resettlement from Syria or Iraq. It did amend the Visa Waiver program as described in a prior Franczek Radelet alert.
The Bill also doubles the Public Law 111-230 fees that heavy users of H-1B and L-1 visas pay.
Public Law 111-230, which expired on September 30, 2015, applied to U.S. employers with 50 or more employees in the U.S. in H-1B, L-1A, or L-1B status. Those employers were required to pay an additional $2000 fee on each petition seeking initial H-1B nonimmigrant status or to port H-1B employers, and $2250 for each petition seeking initial L-1 nonimmigrant status or to port L-1 employers.
The Bill doubles the fees for H-1Bs and L-1s from $2,000 to $4,000, and $2250 to $4500, respectively. Additionally, the fees will be assessed at the time of initial filing and for any petitions seeking an extension of status. The Bill establishes these fees for ten years through September 30, 2025. The revenue generated from these fees is expected to fund the James Zadroga 9-11 First Responders Fund and biometric entry-exit programs. These fees are particularly expected to impact consulting companies that are heavy employers of H-1B and L-1 employees.