On December 18, 2015, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that includes several immigration related provisions...
On December 18, 2015, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that includes several immigration related provisions, including a large fee hike on L-1 and H-1B petitions in cases where the petition company has more than 50 full-time equivalent employees in the U.S., and least 50% of those employees are in H-1B or L-1 status.
A similar fee was imposed by the 2010 Border Security Act. The 2010 fee was $2000 for subject H-1B employers and $2500 for subject L-1 employers. However, that fee sunset on September 30, 2015. The new fee, which takes effect immediately, is much higher. The cost is $4000 per H-1B petition for subject employers and $4500 per L-1 for subject employers.
Another significant difference between the Border Security Act fee of 2010 and the Omnibus Spending Bill fee of 2015 is that the new provision makes employers liable for the fee even for extensions of stay with the same employer, whereas the 2010 law only imposed the fee on initial petitions.
USCIS has not yet posted any public information about imposition of the fee on their website; however, we have heard anecdotal reports from other attorneys that subject employers are receiving Requests for Evidence on subject petitions, which request the fee. In addition, the U.S. Consulate in Chennai has begun collecting the fee and has posted a notice about it on their website.
It does not appear that U.S. Customs & Border Protection has issued any guidance on imposition of the fee either, and CBP officers who adjudicate L-1 petitions at Class A ports-of-entry along the Northern Border would be required to collect the fee from subject employers. If history is any guide, it is likely that the ports will not receive guidance on the new fee and will not collect it until USCIS starts sending approved L-1 petitions back to the ports and asking them to collect fees on previously approved cases.