On October 24, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule increasing filing fees associated with a significant number of immigration applications. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must recover its costs through fees and periodically adjust fees to increase its operating revenue. The DHS proposed rule of May 4, 2016 indicated that USCIS would face a possible $560 million budget shortfall without the current fee increases.

Employers will need to factor additional costs into their immigration budgets since fees for the most commonly used employment-based filings will be affected. For example, Immigrant Petitions for Alien Worker (Form I-140) will increase from $580 to $700, and Employer Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) will increase from $325 to $460. (This increased fee for the I-129 form is but one of three fees already charged for the sponsorship of certain H-1B workers; the other fees being $500 and $1,500 (or $750 if the sponsoring employer has less than 25 employees). Also, new L-1 petitions for intracompany transfers already have an additional $500 filing fee attached.)

Changes also impact the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) fees. DHS included an option for a reduced fee of $320 for naturalization applicants with family income greater than 150 percent and not more than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Otherwise, the standard fee will increase from $595 to $640. There is no change to the fee waivers available to qualifying low income applicants or those in military service.

The rule is effective December 23, 2016, and any applications or petitions mailed, postmarked or otherwise filed on or after December 23rd must include the new fee. A complete list of the fee increases can be found on the USCIS website.