There has recently been a flurry of new Federal Register notices issued by U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) relating to fees and reimbursements for a myriad of visa programs. The H-2A and H-2B visa programs have not been immune from these changes.

First, there has been an increase in the daily subsistence rate workers receive for the cost of meals while traveling to and from the place of employment and the place from which the worker has come to work for the employer. Previously, the minimum daily subsistence amount had been $15.46 per day. As of February 13, 2024, this amount is now $15.88 per day. The maximum daily subsistence amount, available with documentation of actual expenses, remains at $59 per day. For the H-2A program, where an employer chooses to provide meals instead of cooking facilities, the maximum amount the employer may charge workers for providing three meals per day is the same rate, which is now $15.88 per day. The USDOL bases the calculation on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for Food (CPI-U for Food).

Second, the premium processing fee at USCIS that is available for an H-2B visa filing increased on February 26, 2024. Previously, this amount had been $1,500, and this has now increased to $1,685. USCIS bases the increase on the CPI-U (which is a measure of inflation).

Last but not least, USCIS announced a change in fee structure that will add an entirely new fee for H-2A and H-2B filers submitting an application on or after April 1, 2024. The new fee is an Asylum Program Fee the agency is instituting in order to “fund the cost of fairly and efficiently adjudicating immigration benefit requests, including those provided without charge to refugee, asylum, and certain other applicants or petitioners.”

The I-129 filing fee itself will increase for H-2B and H-2A applications for unnamed beneficiary petitions from 0% to 26%. However, a separate fee increase has been included for named beneficiary petitions, which increases the I-129 filing fee by 17% to 137%, depending largely on whether the employer is considered a small employer/nonprofit or not. A small employer petitioner is considered to have 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.

About Harris Beach’s Temporary and Seasonal Labor Practice

Harris Beach PLLC maintains one of the largest temporary and seasonal visa practices in the country. L.J. D’Arrigo, co-leader of the firm’s Immigration Practice Group, and Jarrod M. Sharp, Sr. Counsel, are nationally recognized for processing seasonal visas. Our immigration attorneys provide guidance to some of the largest employers in the U.S. across industry sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality, construction, landscaping, equine, and others. We facilitate the processing of more than 10,000 temporary workers through the H-2B and H-2A programs each season. We also have been successful in developing long-term permanent labor solutions for our clients.

Harris Beach attorneys guide employers through every step of the H-2 journey, developing successful strategies and ensuring that your business remains in compliance with the complex maze of government regulations. Contact our H-2 visa team today at H2@harrisbeach.com.

This alert is not a substitute for advice of counsel on specific legal issues.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York state, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as Washington D.C., New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.