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Immigration Newsletter - April 2024

Increased USCIS Filing Fees Go into Effect April 1, 2024

In case you missed last month’s newsletter concerning USCIS filing fees:

The new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) filing fee schedule has created new types of fees that may be applicable based on the size of the company, the classification type, and how the application is filed.  The following are the more important changes relevant to employment-based immigration:

  • USCIS has instituted a $50 discount on forms filed online. Because not all forms can be filed online, the discount is available only for the following forms: Form I-90, Form I-130, Form I-539, Form I-765, Form N-336, Form N-400, Form N-565, Form N-600, Form N-600K, Form G-1041, and Form G-1041A.
  • Adjustment of status fees no longer include fees for Forms I-131 and I-765. All three fees must now be paid separately. However, there is a 50 percent discount for Forms I-765 that are filed based on an adjustment of status application.
  • The number of days that USCIS requires for premium processing will now be measured in business days, not calendar days. As we stated last month, the fees for premium processing increased on February 26, 2024.
  • The fees that apply to Form I-129 filings are no longer the same for all nonimmigrant categories. The cost associated with a Form I-129 filing will now be dependent on the requested classification, as well as the size and type of employer. For example, the fee for a Form I-129 seeking an H-1B classification will now be $780 (up from $460).  However, if an H-1B classification is sought by a small employer or nonprofit, the fee will be only $460.
  • To help fund the asylum process using employment-based petition fees, USCIS is now charging an additional $600 for most Forms I-129, I-129CW, and Form I-140. Small employers will be charged a lower fee, and nonprofits are exempt.

We have attached a helpful flyer that explains the new filing fees. Click here to access it.

Contact us with questions about the new USCIS filing fees.

USCIS Updates Guidance on Fillable Form I-9 Signature Requirement

In 2023, USCIS updated the instructions that accompany the I-9 Form to state that, in addition to printing the completed form and manually signing it, the employer may choose “to upload the form to an electronic signature solution that complies with [the applicable] regulations, to have all parties sign electronically.”  This statement caused confusion among employers, some of whom thought that a manual signature was no longer required. 

In March 2024, USCIS updated its guidance to make it clear that a manual signature is still very much required:

Form I-9 is a fillable form, which means you can type your answers directly into the form, except for the signature blocks. Employers and employees using this fillable form must print and manually sign it rather than typing or electronically affixing a signature because this fillable form does not meet DHS standards for electronic Form I-9 generation, storage and retention systems. See 8 CFR section 274a.2. Failure to meet DHS standards for electronically generated, stored and/or retained Form I-9 may result in fines and other penalties.

Contact us with questions about I-9 compliance.

DOS Introduces New Interactive Tool to Assist With Visa Applications

Currently being employed on several (but not all) consular post sections’ websites, a new interactive tool known as the Visa Navigator is helping with the Visa application process by serving as a secure portal for the submission of additional post-interview documents when requested, providing general visa information, and answering questions regarding individual case processing. 

In most cases, the Navigator has replaced an attorney’s or foreign national’s ability to e-mail a consular post directly.  Consular posts that do not use the Navigator still rely on emails or online portals for inquiries.  The only way to know the consular post’s preferred method of communication is to carefully search the consular post’s website or Google the consular post and “Visa Navigator.” 

The Navigator is typically unable to address fact-specific questions, requests for visa-refusal reviews, or more complex questions.  However, nearly all Navigators provide information and links to places where applicants can request an expedited appointment.

Contact us with questions about the Visa Navigator.

USCIS Clarifies How It Will Process Expedite Requests

Immigration benefit requestors may request expedited adjudication of their applications, petitions, requests, appeals, or motions. USCIS considers all such requests on a case-by-case basis and generally requires documentation to support such requests. The USCIS’ updates regarding expedite requests further provide:

  • In considering government interests-based requests, including those made by a federal government agency or department, USCIS generally defers to the agency or department’s assessment.
  • USCIS may expedite adjudication of an Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) when an applicant demonstrates a pressing or critical need to leave the United States.
  • USCIS may decide to grant an expedite request in cases where USCIS has clearly committed an error.

Contact us with questions about expedite requests.


USCIS Working to Correct Erroneous, and Extremely Long, DACA Processing Time Reported on its Website

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications, including the associated I-765 Request for Employment Authorization, are being transferred to the Nebraska Service Center for processing (with the exception of a small number of remaining requests pending at the Vermont Service Center (VSC)).  Unfortunately, the transfer process has caused the USCIS website to reflect inaccurate processing times for the California Service Center (CSC) and VSC.  As of early March 2024, the USCIS website stated that I-765s filed with DACA renewals at the CSC would take 129 months to process.  USCIS reports that the page is being updated. 

Contact us with questions about DACA and accompanying I-765s for employees.

  • Victoria A. Donoghue

    Victoria Donoghue has an extensive background in immigration law, advising clients on the full range of issues related to employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. Her experience includes handling complex Requests for ...

  • Abigail J. Walsh

    Abigail Walsh has over 20 years’ experience in a wide range of immigration matters. She represents multinational and domestic corporations, their employees and private individuals in business immigration matters before U.S ...


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