USCIS has published a Fee Schedule Final Rule that includes substantial increases to EB-5 filing fees. The increases are effective April 1, 2024:
I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor/I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor: $11,160. The current fee is $3,675.
I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status: $9,525. The current fee is $3,750.
I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation: $47,695. The current fee is $17,795.
Is there time to file before the increases take effect?
With the fee hike approaching, investors can still file before the new rates take effect — but only if they are prepared, advises broker-dealer representative Kurt Reuss. He highlights the importance of due diligence over the rush to save on filing fees, considering the increase constitutes less than one percent of the total investment.
The reason behind the fee increases
USCIS made a comprehensive fee review, as required every two years, and concluded the proposed rule to necessary to “reestablish and maintain timely USCIS service levels.”
Public comment for the proposed rule occurred from January 4, 2023, through March 13, 2023.
UCCIS receives about 96% of its funding from filing fees — not taxpayer money. So, as an industry, we should remember that petitioners receive the service they pay for.
“The Reform and Integrity Act promises many new compliance protocols that will make EB-5 a safer and more regulated program,” says Reuss, an expert in securities compliance. “Higher fees are hard to swallow, but we now have a better program and if the fee increases lead to faster processing, that would be welcomed by all.”
More USCIS staff and updated technology
In the early days of COVID-19, USCIS receipts plummeted, and revenue decreased 40%, causing a hiring freeze. USCIS lifted the freeze in March 2021 and continues to hire. It aims to hire 7,778 new staff members and pay for technology maintenance and a “refresh.”
When was the last fee increase?
USCIS last increased fees over six years ago, December 23, 2016.
Is this the same as the RIA Fee Study?
The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA) mandates a study to determine what fees are required to achieve much faster processing times. This Final Fee Rule is not the same as the RIA-required study.
Despite the RIA Fee Study setting an end date of one year after the enactment of the new law for the completion of that study, the Final Fee Rule acknowledges that the RIA Fee Study is “still in its early stages.”
USCIS makes filing projections that some dispute
The Fee Schedule Final Rule also includes USCIS predictions for the number of filings it expects in the coming year. Notably, the agency projects 400 applications for regional center designation and 600 project applications. Some industry professionals believe these numbers to be well over what we will actually see.
See the Fee Schedule Final Rule