US Visa Fee Hike And Its Impact For Families, Employers, Investor Applicants

In a new development which will have far reaching implications for Indians, the U.S. has hiked Visa fees by a huge margin and it will come into effect from April. The visa fees hike will impact everyone from those who seek employment in the US like IT professionals, employers, sponsors, US citizens who seek to bring their relatives to the US and also high profile investors who want to do business in the US. The move has evoked sharp criticism by experts who have contended that there is a paucity of resources needed to address the increasing humanitarian workload and efforts to reduce backlogs.

The changes in the visa fees is as follows-

  • 70% hike for H-1B visa petitions being sponsored by employers. Also the H-1B electronic registration fee will rise from $10 to $215.
  • L-1 visa fees hiked by 201% and O-1 visa hiked by 129%,
  • The initial EB-5 investment-linked green card visa fee has been hiked by $3,675 (over Rs 3, 00,000) to $11,160 (over Rs 9, 00,000)
  • Provision of a new Asylum Program fee of $600 which will be applicable for specific worker and immigrant petition

The visa fees hike for H1-B, L-1, and EB-5 categories will affect the Indians most because these three visas are the most common which is applied by Indians. This has been the most significant hike since 2016 and the hike as per US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) , which comes under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will help recover the costs and help in speedy increase processing of applications.

Fallout On Families And Spouses

The  I-130 form fees have been hiked by 26% to $675 and it will impact those families which seek reunification including marriage which will enable spouses to migrate to the US. If a green card holder applies for an I-130 visa seeking to enable a relationship with an eligible relative who seeks to permanently settle in the US and seek a green card the fee stands at $1,440 as compared to earlier $1,225. Also if the person seeks to bring his fiancée to the US via Form I-129F, the fee has been hiked from $535 to $675, an increase of 26%.

Even if the couple goes for an out of country marriage the petitioner would need to file Form I-130 for their spouse to immigrate. The Form I-130 carries fees of $675; therefore, out-of-country marriage would not result in significant cost savings.

Also the process of applying for American Citizenship has also become very expensive  but the fees for the online application for naturalization with biometric services has seen a decline from $725 to $710.

The most notable increase is seen in the EB-5 – the investment-linked green card visa program has been hiked almost three times from $3,675 (over Rs 300,000) to $11,160 (over Rs 900,000) for their initial I-829 application. This increase will significantly impact the wealthy Indians who seek to invest in the US for residency purposes.

The EB-5 program will require the applicant to go through a consulate interview. They must also possess a conditional green card valid for two years and for a permanent green card, the applicant will have to go through an application process.  The EB-5 program came into existence in 1990 and was aimed to bring in high value foreign investments and applicants will have to invest a minimum of $5,00,000 in a US business and get a visa to stay in the US.

Fallout On IT Professionals

This is a hike which will affect most of the Indians who seek a job in the IT sector in the US. H-1B visa was originally meant to suck in highly qualified Professionals in India who had passed out from premium Institutes such as IIT or IIM. It was a big source to attract highly trained professionals which will serve to dill in the requirements of the IT sector. Thousands of highly trained professionals apply for HI visas for better employment opportunities in the US. The H-1B visa has been increased from $460 (over Rs 38,000) to $780 (over Rs 64,000), with the registration fee also increasing from $10 (Rs 829) to $215 (over Rs 17,000) – an increase of 2,000%.

USCIS has contended that the increased fees will boost revenue and help improve customer experience and backlog.

USCIS director Ur M Jaddou said “It is for the first time in over seven years, USCIS is updating our fees to better meet the needs of our agency, enabling us to provide more timely decisions to those we serve”.

The hike in Visa fees has been severely criticized by many experts. One of the main critics has been the IT sector and the music industry which is dependent on overseas employees and the latest visa hike will affect this sector the most.

Also Read: Who Is Savion Johnson? Texas National Guard Member Arrested For Migrant Smuggling

Manoj Nair

Manoj Nair: With a decade of news writing across various media platforms, Manoj is a seasoned professional. His dual role as an English teacher underscores his command over communication. He adeptly covers Politics, Technology, Crypto, and more, reflecting a broad and insightful perspective that engages and informs diverse audiences.

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