2016 Omnibus Bill Increase Does Impact Most H-1B Employers

Between Friday morning and the signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 by the President on Friday evening, an ever so slight change in the language will cost many H-1B employers an extra $4,000. Originally, the language of the bill stated that the filing fee "shall be increased by $4,000 for applicants that employ 50 or more employees in the United States if more than 50 percent of the applicant's employees are nonimmigrants described in section 101(a)(15)(L) of such Act. Now, the following language appears in the enrolled (final) bill: "shall be increased by $4,000 for applicants that employ 50 or more employees in the United States if more than 50% of the applicant's employees are such nonimmigrants or nonimmigrants described in section 101(a)(15)(L) of such Act." The addition of the words "are such nonimmigrants" refers to H-1B nonimmigrants and therefore indicates that H-1B employees must also be counted when making the 50% calculation. We are investigating exactly how the language was added to the final bill and whether any options exist for relief. In the meantime, USCIS is expected to announce the updated filing fees on their website and will likely require the fees to be paid for any petition delivered on or after December 21st.