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Price of Work Visas Skyrockets, Heightening Stakes for Many of California’s Small Enterprises

Visa Issue (Credits: Times Now)

The recent sweeping visa fee increases implemented by the U.S. government, effective April 1, are impacting California businesses and immigrant workers alike.

For businesses, the fee hikes mean higher costs and potentially longer wait times for visa processing. Immigration attorney Ally Bolour highlights the challenges his entertainment industry clients face, who must change tight visa filing timelines to accommodate production schedules.

Visa fee (Credits: AP News)

The fee for expedited “premium processing” has increased by 12%, while the turnaround time has been extended from two to three weeks. These changes have sparked concerns among lawyers, immigrant advocates, and small businesses, who view them as an unfair burden. Stuart Anderson from the National Foundation for American Policy notes that the increased fees do not offer any additional benefits to applicants.

Demand for foreign labor, particularly high-skilled workers, has surged, driven by expansions in industries like artificial intelligence. Companies like Riot Games emphasize the importance of recruiting globally to access the best talent for specific roles and to cater to a diverse global audience.

However, the fee increases pose challenges for small employers, with San Francisco attorney Lisa Spiegel highlighting the hardship faced by some. These businesses, which may only receive a few H-1B visa approvals each year, are grappling with the cost and timeliness of visa approvals.

National Foundation for American Policy (Credits: Brandfetch)

The fee hikes affect immigrant workers directly, as they finally bear the financial impact. Anuj Christian, a development operations engineer from India, expresses frustration at the increased fees, which add to the financial strain of continually renewing temporary employment visas.

The fee increases are prompting businesses to reconsider the immigration benefits they provide to employees, potentially leading to cutbacks in certain benefits. The situation raises concerns about balancing humanitarian needs and driving higher fees, especially for immigrants waiting in lengthy queues for permanent residency.

For immigrant workers and businesses alike, the fee hikes are seen as an additional tax or surcharge that unfairly burdens those seeking employment opportunities or seeking to expand their operations in the U.S.

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