August 4, 2020

USCIS Announces Changes to Visa Petition Fees

On August 3, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Final Rule, which will impact the filing fees for many petitions, including H-2A petitions. Though the standard fee to file for any number of unnamed H-2A workers will decrease, the Rule includes dramatic fee increases for petitions that extend the stay for workers already in the U.S. or transfer to a new H-2A temporary labor certification. The new fees will be effective October 2, 2020.

After the U.S. Department of Labor certifies an application for H-2A temporary labor, the employer must file a form I-129, petition for nonimmigrant visas with USCIS. Typically, H-2A employers file petitions for new unnamed beneficiaries. The current fee for I-129 filings is $460. The final rule reduces the fee for unnamed beneficiary petitions at $415. However, for named beneficiary petitions, typically used for H-2A worker extensions and transfers, the final rule creates a new fee tier at $860. The rule also limits the number of named beneficiaries to 25 individuals per filing. Unnamed beneficiary petitions have no cap on the number of workers requested. 

The increases appear to be driven by the budget shortfall USCIS has experienced due to a reduction in the number of filings of petitions and applications. Most employer sponsored and individual visa programs will experience higher fees going forward.  The new

The rule will take effect 60 days after publication, so any I-129s filed on or after October 2, 2020 will be required to include the new fee amount and comply with the named beneficiary limit.

In addition, USCIS will publish revised versions of several petition and application forms within 30 days, including Form I-129.

As the exclusive provider of H-2A services to Western Growers members, Western Growers H-2A Services can prepare your H-2A application, I-129 petition, and streamline the H-2A process for you. Contact Jason Resnick, Vice President and General Counsel, for more information.