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Costs for work visas and green cards in U.S. are going up — a lot

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has raised the cost of an H-1B visa petition from $460 to $780. The cost for a green card also has increased significantly.

Applying for a work visa or green card just became more expensive. The new fees, including some which are significantly higher, go into effect today, April 1.

No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services hasn’t raised many of its fees in more than seven years. Unlike other agencies, the overwhelming majority, or 96%, of its funding comes from filing fees and 4% comes from congressional appropriations.

The number of immigration filings fell during the Covid-19 pandemic and so did revenue, at one point as much as 40 percent, according to USCIS. The agency implemented a hiring freeze during the pandemic while other positions became vacant as employees left. But the caseload eventually shot up to pre-pandemic levels and now there’s a serious backlog.

“The fee schedule from 2016 no longer covers operational costs to timely adjudicate USCIS immigration and naturalization benefits,” USCIS said on its website. “We need higher fees to cover the cost of doing business and better avoid the accumulation of future backlogs.”

Employers that hire foreign workers and immigration attorneys who work with these companies have been closely following the fee hikes, which the federal government announced it was planning to do over a year ago.

“We’re not talking about one or 2% increases,” said Stephanie Pimentel, partner and co-head of the Dallas office of BAL, a global immigration law firm. “When you pair the base line increases together with that additional new fee that is being leveraged on every new employment-based petition, you’re looking at increases of two and 300%.

The visa fee increase took effect despite an effort to stop USCIS from implementing them. Late last week, a federal district court judge denied a motion from an employer group and other plaintiffs for a temporary restraining order before April 1.

Among the changes, the fee for an H-1B visa petition increased from $460 to $780 and the registration fee for an H-1B shot up from $10 to $215.

One of the biggest changes is a new $600 Asylum Program Fee companies must pay when filling an employment-base petition.

“This is a new tactic of USCIS as part of their fee regulation is to start having U.S. businesses cover the cost of the asylum program because they have the ability to pay it, which I don’t know if I would agree on all businesses,” said Emily Neumann, an immigration attorney and managing partner at Reddy & Neumann, PC in Houston.

Neumann writes an immigration-related blog under the name Immigration Girl and co-hosts a weekly video she shares on social media.

The law firm BAL conducted a survey of employers about the feds’ new fees and found that more than half, or 57% of respondents, said the increase wouldn’t affect their ability to complete globally.

Pimentel said this is most likely because companies know other employers who hire foreign workers have to pay the same fees.

“Still, 43 percent saying that there’s going to be an impact on their ability to compete globally is significant,” Pimentel said, adding that 60% of businesses said they plan to file the same number of petitions while 40% said the would file fewer of them or offer fewer benefits.

Some of those benefits include the employer paying for their employees’ dependents to have their status to stay in the country extended. Others might pay the premium processing fee so their employee’s petition will be expedited. Under the new fee structure though, some employers may no longer cover those, leaving it to their employee(s).

Another change affects those seeking a green card or adjusting their status. The cost of an application is now $1,440, up from $1,225. And USCIS has added two additional fees for those applications – one for filing for interim work authorization and another for filing for an interim work permit.

You can find the entire new filing fee schedule here.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday. Thank you.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.