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DHS Proposes Raising Fees for H-1B, L-1B Visa Extensions

Part of the 9/11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee

Jun 13, 2024

Employers may soon need to pay thousands of additional dollars to extend work visas for foreign workers.

In a new proposed rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would require that employers pay $4,000 to extend an H-1B visa and $4,500 to extend an L-1 visa as part of the 9/11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee. Currently, employers only pay the fee for initial and change of employer petitions.

Background of the 9/11 Response Fee

The 9/11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee funds national security programs, including a system to track the entry and exit of non-U.S. citizens. This fee, set by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, applies to certain H-1B and L-1 visa petitions.

Current Fee Structure

Currently, the fee applies to:

  • H-1B petitions: $4,000
  • L-1 petitions: $4,500

This fee is levied on employers who have 50 or more employees in the United States, with more than 50% of those employees on H-1B or L-1 visas. The fee is currently required only for initial petitions or when there is a change of employer.

Proposed Changes

The new rule proposes extending the fee requirement to cover extension petitions as well. This means that employers meeting the criteria would need to pay the $4,000 or $4,500 fee not only when filing initial H-1B or L-1 petitions or changing employers but also when extending the employment period of an existing H-1B or L-1 visa holder.

Reasons for the Change

DHS said the reasons for the proposed rule include:

  1. Increased Funding Needs: Expanding the fee to extension petitions will provide additional funds necessary for the continued operation and enhancement of the biometric entry-exit system.
  2. Consistency and Fairness: The change aims to create a more consistent and fair application of the fee across all petition types, ensuring that employers are contributing to national security measures regardless of the petition type.
  3. Enhanced Security: By ensuring sufficient funding, the DHS can maintain and improve the biometric entry-exit system, which is crucial for monitoring and managing immigration and enhancing national security.

Impact on Employers

If the rule goes into effect, employers who are subject to the fee will see an increase in their costs associated with H-1B and L-1 visa petitions. This could particularly impact large companies heavily reliant on these visas for their workforce.

For example, an employer with a significant number of H-1B or L-1 visa holders who need to extend their visas will face additional financial burdens. This change may also cause companies to change their hiring strategies, possibly taking a more cautious approach when extending employment for foreign workers.

Public Comments and Next Steps

DHS is currently seeking public comments on the proposed rule. The general public have the opportunity to provide feedback during the comment period, which closes on July 8, 2024.

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