The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a proposed rule that would increase fees to file H-2B petitions by 135%, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The proposal affects certain immigration and naturalization benefit request fees charged by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Named H-2B application fees would rise from $460 to $1,080 (a 135% increase) and unnamed application fees from $460 to $580 (a 26% increase).
Further, USCIS is proposing a new asylum program fee of $600 to be paid by employers who file a Form I-129. Thus, under the proposed rule, the total cost to file a named H-2B application is $1,680 and unnamed is $1,180, a 265% and 157% increase, respectively, by DHS calculations. Finally, USCIS is proposing to limit the number of named beneficiaries per petition to 25, requiring multiple petitions for larger named petitions.
ABC is working with the H-2B Coalition to highlight the burden this proposal will place on contractors and other businesses that rely on critical visa programs to support their workforce needs and file comments, which are due on March 6.
Supplemental Cap Reached
By late January, USCIS reached the cap for the additional 18,216 H-2B visas made available for returning workers for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2023 with start dates on or before March 31, 2023, under the H-2B supplemental cap temporary final rule. The agency continues to accept petitions for H-2B nonimmigrant workers for the additional 20,000 visas allotted for nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Petitioners whose workers were not accepted for the 18,216 returning-worker allotment are encouraged by USCIS to file under the Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras allotment while visas remain available. As of January 26, 2023, USCIS had received petitions requesting 4,260 workers under the 20,000 visas set aside for nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions for workers filing under the Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras allotment, as well as those who are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for current H-2B workers in the U.S. petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers.
Photo Credit: USCIS