The costs of hiring foreign workers would increase significantly for employers in California and around the country if a rule proposed by the Department of Homeland Security in November 2019 is implemented. The rule, which was published in the Federal Register on Nov. 14, would increase fees in most business immigration categories by more than 50%. Immigrants seeking permanent residence or naturalization would also be required to pay more.

Opponents of the proposed rule claim that the Trump administration is attempting to levy a tax on the global job market. They say the increased fees cannot be justified on economic grounds as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has no plans to expand services or hire more staff and unemployment in the United States has fallen to near record lows. In addition to possibly higher immigration fees, employers hoping to hire foreign workers face processing times that have increased by as much as 91% since 2014.

Processing times have grown longer despite a 30% increase in the USCIS budget and a fall in the number of applications processed by the agency. Advocacy groups like the American Immigration Lawyers Association say waiting times are increasing because USCIS now requires interviews for employment-based visa applications and makes requests for evidence far more frequently. USCIS adjudicators also have heavier workloads because they no longer defer to previous decisions when evaluating H-1B extensions.

Applications for H-1B and H-2B visas often fail to pass initial screening because they lack important information, were submitted without supporting documents or were not received during strictly enforced processing windows. Attorneys with employment immigration experience may help employers to avoid such rejections be ensuring that visa applications are completed correctly, accompanied by relevant evidence and submitted promptly. Attorneys might also advocate on behalf of employers during immigration hearings if their visa applications are denied.