USCIS Reopened Selection of Registrations for H-1B:
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reopened selection of registrations for the FY2021 H-1B Cap. The initial selection occurred in March of this year and all selected H-1B petitions were supposed to be filed in June 2020. However, there were indications that, most likely, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS had not received sufficient number of petitions to meet the cap limitations. Consequently, the H-1B registrations selection under the cap has been reopened and the newly selected registrations are now appearing on the applicants’ USCIS online accounts with notations “August 2020 Selection of Reserve Registration” and indicate a filing period of 8/17/2020 – 11/16/2020 for the newly selected petitions. Importantly, the petitions must list a start date of October 1, 2020, consistent with the selected registration or the petitions may be rejected. Also important is that the USCIS fee increases and a new edition Form I-129H will take effect on October 2, 2020, so it is advisable to make the H-1B petitions submissions prior to that date. A copy of the selection notice should be included with each newly selected H-1B petition.
Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule that adjusts fees for certain immigration and naturalization benefit requests to ensure USCIS recovers its costs of services. Unlike most government agencies, USCIS is fee funded. Fees collected and deposited into the Immigration Examinations Fee Account fund almost 97% of USCIS’ budget. USCIS fees are adjusted by a weighted average increase of 20% to help recover its operational costs. The rule accounts for increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud, and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners and beneficiaries. The rule also supports USCIS’s payroll, technology and operations. The rule removes certain fee exemptions, includes new fees for asylum applicants, and reduces fee waivers. The final rule also encourages online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit eligible filings electronically. While a few filing fees are getting a slight decrease, several major immigration proceedings filing fees are increasing by 51% (E and TN application filing fees), 53% (O petition filing fees), 75% (L petition filing fees), and more than 80% (naturalization application filing fees). The new filing fees are coming into effect on October 2, 2020. It is advisable to make eligible filings (most notably, naturalization applications) prior to October 2nd to take advantage of the current filing fees.