USCIS Updates Visa Processing and Fees: Impact on Students and Applicants

In a recent development, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revealed adjustments to visa application processing fees, affecting several categories, including students and H-1B visa applicants.


New USCIS Application Fees Unveiled

The USCIS website has detailed the updated premium processing fees for various forms, such as I-129, I-140, I-539, and I-765. Specifically, the premium processing fee for I-129, which deals with petitions for nonimmigrant workers like those on H-1B and L-1 visas, has seen a 12% increase to $2,805 from $2,500. Similarly, the premium processing charges for Form I-539, commonly used by international students and dependents of H-1B visa holders, have risen to $1,965 from $1,750. Furthermore, the fee for Form I-765, aimed at obtaining employment authorization, including for F-1 students during optional practical training (OPT), has been adjusted to $1,685 from $1,500.

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Understanding the US Student Visa (F-1 Visa)

The F-1 vis, known as the US student visa, is a non-immigrant visa designed for individuals pursuing academic or language programs at accredited institutions in the United States. With the F-1 visa, students can stay in the US for the duration of their program and explore opportunities for optional practical training (OPT) after completing their studies, allowing them to gain valuable work experience.

Heightened Scrutiny for Student Visa Applications

Under the recent changes, student visa applications, specifically for F, M, and J visa types, will undergo increased scrutiny to prevent fraudulent submissions. Applicants must now provide passport details when creating a profile and scheduling a visa appointment.

Insights into the H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa, a non-immigrant visa, permits US companies to employ foreign workers with specialized expertise in theoretical or technical fields. With the revised fees, US attorneys are advising employers to factor these processing costs into their immigration budget planning, effective from 2024.

For those seeking information, the duration of an H-1B visa is contingent on various factors but is typically initially granted for up to three years. If necessary, individuals can extend the H-1B visa for a maximum of six years, with the overall maximum period of stay on H-1B status typically limited to six years.

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In light of the recent adjustments to visa application processing fees by the USCIS, the landscape of immigration in the United States is undergoing significant changes, particularly impacting students and H-1B visa applicants. The detailed insights into the premium processing fee increases for various forms underscore the financial considerations now essential for those seeking non-immigrant statuses.

As the scrutiny intensifies for student visa applications, applicants must navigate the new requirements, emphasizing transparency and accuracy in their submissions. The F-1 visa, designed for academic pursuits, now comes with an added layer of verification, aimed at eliminating fraudulent applications.

For employers relying on the expertise of foreign workers in specialized fields, the updated H-1B visa fees present financial implications. The advice from US attorneys to incorporate these processing costs into immigration budget planning signals the need for strategic foresight in managing workforce mobility.

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