DHS Proposes to Levy 9/11 Response and Biometric Fee on US Employers for L1, H1B Visa Extensions

After a significant US visa fee hike came into effect for foreign workers and investors starting this April, the Biden government is looking to tax American employers for work visa extensions to their employees from India and other countries. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has brought a new proposal to levy the 9/11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee also on L-1 and H1B visa extensions through employers in the US.

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Incepted in December 2015, the 9/11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee is collected for initial H1B and L1 visa petitions by “certain employers” hiring qualified foreign workers. This fee helps pump up the fund for America’s national security programs. It also funds the existing systems that monitor non-immigrants’ entry to and exit from the United States. Currently, certain employers pay $4000 to $4500 for visa petitions if over 50% of their employee strength is on H1B and/or L-1.

The new DHS rule seeks to substitute “all petitioners” for the existing phrase “certain petitioners”, so that all US employers including those petitioning for L-1 and H1B visa renewal pay the 9/11 Response and Biometric Fee. The proposal seeks to mandate the same amount of fees for renewing the visa of L-1 and H1B employees for an extended period of stay and employment in the US.

The DHS proposal, if supported and implemented, would incur higher expenses to the US businesses relying on foreign professionals with H1B or L-1 visas. It would, no doubt, double the financial burden for the US employers having a significant number of H1B and/or L-1 employees from India and other countries, prompting a re-evaluation of their hiring practices and their decision to extend the tenure of employment for foreign employees.

DHS justified its proposal to extend the 9/11 Response and Biometric Fee to L-1 and H1B visa renewals, reasoning that the current fund is short of the biometric entry-exit system’s uninterrupted operation. The additional fund is required to upgrade the national security programs, improve the monitoring of visa fraud, enhance the immigration procedure, and set up a biometric entry-exit data system.

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