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Honorable President of The USA, Mr. Barak Obama, endorsed The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) on December 18, 2015. The endorsement implies a significant increase in the charges to be levied on certain visa request categories.

The changes – or rather raise in the charges – include levies for certain categories of provisional applicants. The applicants would now need to remit an additional charge for some categories of H – 1B and L-1 Petitions marked as posted on or after December 18, 2015.

The additional charges would be applicable to the requests, filed by petitioners giving jobs to a minimum of 50 personnel in the USA, with more than half of the workforce being in the country on the basis of the nonimmigrant visa. Such petitioners would now need to deposit additional charges with the H – 1 B and L-1 visa applications.

The categories included in this new arrangement are:

  • Nonimmigrants being granted H-1B or L visa;
  • Nonimmigrants obtaining permission to change jobs, thus employers while holding nonimmigrant visa.

The new charge structure would remain in force till September 30, 2025; and would be levied in addition to the basic processing charges – as per, Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee, American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 fee (if needed), as well as the additional charges, when needed. Public Law 114-113.

The USCIS is considering revision of the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition to highlight the statutes of the Public Law 114-113.

In the application process of the abovementioned categories of the visa, the petitioners would need to file following annexures:

  • Sections 1.d. and 1.d.1 of section 1 of H – 1B and H – 1 B1 Data Collection Filing Fee Exemption Supplement (Form I-129); and
  • Sections 4.a. and 4.b. of the L Classification Annexure (Form I-129).

From February 11, 2016 onwards, USCIS could return the requests not complying with the requirements of petitions, like:

  • Submitted forms:
    • Certain sections 1.d. and 1.d.1 of Section 1 of the H-1B and H-1B1 Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Annexure; and
    • Sections 4.a. and 4.b. of the L Classification Annexure, or
  • Including submission of charges as per additional Public Law 114-113, if required.

An RFE - Request for Evidence – would be issued – within one month of release of the bulletin – as a request for the additional fee, if applicable. That implies that issuance of RFE would not mean a return of the request for not submitting the additional Fee for H-1B and L-1 Petitions.

It would USCIS purview to ascertain whether the petition, as filed, falls under the additional levy categories or not. During this process – issuance of an RFE – original filing of an application would be considered as the date of receiving the request by USCIS.

Henceforth it is highly suggested that petitioners should furnish comprehensive information as desired in the Form I-129. This would help them to evade an RFE to reduce events of unnecessary interactions with the USCIS. In the cases, where an RFE is issued to the petitioner, they would have to respond either with the fee submission or an explanation why fee is not applicable in their case.

 

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