New Law Increases H-1B and L-1 Petition Fees

Have you ever heard of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016? This is also known as the 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill, which was signed into law by President Obama on December 18, 2015. The bill acts as a way to increase revenue to federal agencies for the fiscal year of 2016. The bill authorizes an outstanding $1.1 trillion in spending as well as $700 billion in tax breaks. This federal government funding goes all the way through September 30, 2016. People petitioning for H-1B and L-1 visas may have a surprise when it comes time to file: The bill increases fees for these petitioners. They must typically submit an additional fee of $4,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $4,500 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions that have been postmarked on or after December 18, 2015. The L-1 fees have increased from and original $2,250 and the H-1B fees have increased from $2,000.

How Will This Affect Certain Employees?

As mentioned previously, only certain petitioners will be included in this new bill. For instance, if a petitioner (employer) wishes to employ 50 or more employees in the United States, with more than 50% of those employees in H-1B or L-1A, L-1B nonimmigrant status, it will have to pay the additional fee. Is the H-1B or L-1 petition being filed for an initial grant of work stat us? Is the petition being filed to obtain authorization for a nonimmigrant in such status to change employers? These are important questions that must be analyzed to understand when the additional fee is applicable.

The Importance of February 11, 2016

If you are filing an H-1B or L-1 petition, you may know the importance of remembering dates and keeping deadlines in mind. For instance, you may have April in mind as the filing deadline for the forms. Petitions for 2016 that the USCIS receives between April 1 and close of business on April 7 will be accepted. However, you should also keep February in mind because this is when the USCIS starts rejecting petitions that are received on or after February 11, 2016 that are not complete because of missing information in Item Numbers 1.d and 1.d.1 of Section 1 of the H-1B and H-1B1 Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement, Item Numbers 4.a and 4.b of the L Classification Supplement, or the Public Law 114-113 fee information when applicable.

The USCIS may, if it chooses, issue something known as a Request for Evidence (RFE) to determine whether additional feed will apply to the petition. This takes place during the 30-day period after the web alert is made. However, one must understand that they can avoid an RFE. They should simply complete the questions on the Form I-129 and submit the applicable fee when it is required.

The new Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 affects many, especially the employers involved in the process. For instance, the companies who have more than 50 employees, and employ more than 50% of their US staff with employees having H or L visas, will have to pay the new fee when the new application season starts on April 1, 2016. The H-1 and L-1 categories are in constant flux do to changing rules; these rule modifications and additions must be carefully considered to avoid disappointment when the adjudication arrives.