On August 19, 2010, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued guidance to employers filing H-1B or L-1 petitions based on the recently enacted Public Law 111-230, an emergency appropriations bill providing $600 million for additional security measures on the southern U.S. border. The law is funded by imposing additional filing fees on certain H-1B and L-1 petitions, filed by employers with a significant foreign worker population.

Who does this apply to? Any petitioner employing at least 50 people in the U.S., if at least 50 percent of its U.S. workforce is in H-1B or L status.

Neither the law nor the USCIS guidance makes a distinction between full-time or part-time employees in calculating the size of the workforce. USCIS guidance indicates the calculation of employees in L status includes those in L-1A, L-1B, or L-2 status.

What H-1B or L-1 petitions are covered? Petitions made to the USCIS, or to a U.S. Consulate in the case of a Blanket L petition, requesting an initial grant of H-1B or L-1 status for the worker, or a change of employer for a worker already employed in the U.S. in H-1B, L-1A or L-1B status.

What are the fees? The new fees are $2,000 for an H-1B petition, and $2,250 for an L-1 petition.

The fees are in addition to the other applicable filing and anti-fraud fees (for H-1B and L-1 petitions), and the education and training fee (for H-1B petitions).

What is the effective period of the law? The law was signed by President Obama on August 13, 2010, and became effective for petitions filed on August 14th or later. It will remain into effect until September 30, 2014.

The USCIS guidance indicates that all affected petitions filed for H-1B or L-1 status must include either the new fee, or a statement by the petitioner indicating why the fee does not apply. Therefore, each employer that files an H-1B or L-1 petition for initial status with that employer must be prepared to submit a statement confirming the inapplicability of the new fees, if the fees do not apply.