- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing a rule change requiring petitioners of H-1B cap-subject visas to pay a $10 fee for every registration they submit to USCIS for the H-1B cap selection operation. The proposal is published in the Federal Register.
- The fee is supposed to help DHS recover the increased costs of processing H-1B applications prompted by the new H-1B rule, finalized earlier this year.
- USCIS is inviting public comments on the proposal until Oct. 4, 2019.
Employers petitioning for H-1B visas are already subjected to additional fees when filing Form I-129. USCIS maintains a list of Acts and Public Laws requiring extra fees for H (H-1B visas for skilled workers) or L (L-1 visas for internal company transfers) nonimmigrant petitions. In the Federal Registry filing, USCIS notes that the $10 fee would have petitioners "experience new opportunity costs" but that in the long run the fee would allow for "net estimated cost savings for all unselected petitioners" thanks to the costs it would otherwise offset.
Employers are already dealing with headaches regarding the H-1B process. As of June 2019, H-1B petition denials were at 32% in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2019, according to National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) research.
The high demand for skilled foreign workers won't likely change, especially in a tight labor market. Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in an address earlier this year that manufacturing currently has 428,000 jobs to fill and will need to fill more than 4 million openings in the next decade. Commonly unfilled jobs include software engineers, production workers, engineers, supply chain talent and operational managers.
Several factors could impact the H-1B conundrum for employers in the next few years; among them, the 2020 presidential election outcome, any immigration reform measures by lawmakers and a possible recession.