Top 5 things to know about the Asylum Program Fee

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1. Purpose is to shift costs to employment-based cases 

USCIS indicated in its final rule, that the purpose of the fee is to shift some of the costs of processing asylum applications, which do not require a fee, to cases that are generally submitted by employer petitioners. 

2. The fee adds an additional $600 to I-129 and I-140 petitions 

The Asylum Program Fee will be an additional expense in the amount of $600 to be paid by employers who file either a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I–129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker, or Form I–140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. 

EB-2 National Interest Waivers and EB-1 immigrant petitions, along with O-1 nonimmigrant petitions will be required to pay the fee. 

3. Small employers pay $300 and nonprofits pay $0

Small employers with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees are only required to pay half the standard fee, or $300. Nonprofit organizations (those under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or government research organization) are entirely exempt.

4. Self-petitioners are not exempt 

Despite the small-employer exception, USCIS recently confirmed in a stakeholder meeting that the $600 fee will still apply to self-petitioners, like those filing a National Interest Waiver.

5. The fee goes into effect on April 1, 2024

The asylum program fee, along with the adjusted fee schedule will go into effect on April 1, 2024. There is no grace period for the fee change. USCIS uses the postmark date of a filing to decide which form version and fees are correct. Due to the timing of the new rule, the asylum program fee will be required in this year’s H-1B cap filing period, which will also open on April 1.  

Along with the increase in fees, USCIS is issuing new editions of many forms. Most cases filed with an old form edition will be accepted during a grace period from April 1, 2024 to June 3, 2024. However, there is no grace period for certain forms that are revised with a new fee calculation, including employment-based Forms I-129 and I-140. USCIS will reject a filing that includes old editions of the forms. 

For more information about the USCIS increase in filing fees, see our previous post here

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