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Immigration Developments: Public Charge Rule and USCIS Filing Fees

August 03, 2020

A federal court on July 29 temporarily halted the public charge rule during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, while the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on July 31 released a new proposed schedule with increased filing fees.

Federal Court Temporarily Halts Public Charge Rule During COVID-19 Pandemic

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a preliminary nationwide injunction on July 29 to temporarily block the continued implementation of the public charge rule during a national health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. As per an earlier alert, the US Supreme Court had lifted the injunction to the public charge rule to at least allow for its implementation while the issue is being litigated in the federal court system.

Pursuant to this decision, the USCIS has issued a statement clarifying that applicants and petitioners whose applications or petitions will be postmarked on or after July 29, 2020, that they should NOT include the Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency or provide information about the receipt of public benefits on Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status Applications), Form I-129 (Petition for Non-immigrant Worker such as H-1Bs, L-1s, O-1s), or Form I-539/I-539A (Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status).

USCIS to Raise Filing Fees

The USCIS on July 31 released a new proposed fee schedule to take effect on October 2, 2020. The filing fees for most employment-based applications have increased by a weighted average of 20%.

Most significantly, the filing fee for non-immigrant L visa petitions filed within the United States have increased to $805 per petition, as compared to $460, which is a 75% increase. As consulates abroad are slow to reopen, many employers are filing L-1 extensions for their employees within the United States instead of sending them abroad to renew under blanket L procedures, and therefore will need to incur additional costs as of October 2, 2020.

Examples of other increases are included in the table below:

Immigration Benefit Request

Current Fee

Fee as of October 2, 2020

I-129 (E)

$460

$695

I-129 (H-1B)

$460

$555

I-129 (L)

$460

$805

I-129 (O)

$460

$705

I-129 (TN)

$460

$695

USCIS is also proposing a change to the premium processing time for eligible applications, increasing the required USCIS response time from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.

With these constant changes both affecting extensions of work authorization and permanent residency applications in addition to the monetary burden brought upon by the increased fees, employers should reach out to their Morgan Lewis immigration attorney to discuss the implications of any applications currently in process or have yet to be filed.

Return to Work Resources

We have developed many customizable resources to support employers’ efforts in safely returning to work. These include tracking of state and local orders on return to work requirements and essential/nonessential work; policy templates and guidelines for key topics such as social distancing procedures, temperature testing, and workplace arrangements for high-risk employees; and webinar training on safety measures for return to work. View the full list of return to work resources and consult our workplace reopening checklist.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force

For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. Find resources on how to cope with the post-pandemic reality on our NOW. NORMAL. NEXT. page and our COVID-19 page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts, and download our biweekly COVID-19 Legal Issue Compendium.

Contacts

If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this alert, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Washington, DC
Shannon A. Donnelly
Eleanor Pelta
Eric S. Bord

Miami
Laura C. Garvin

San Francisco
A. James Vázquez-Azpiri
Christina M. Gonzaga