As year-end approaches, focus shifts toward financial planning and budgeting for the new year. Estimating immigration-related expenses may be challenging due to inherent uncertainties or unforeseen events. Below are five considerations for employers navigating the complexities of the year-end immigration budget process:

  1. Government Filing Fees and Visa Application Fees: Companies should consider allocating a significant portion of their immigration budget toward the numerous government fees associated with USCIS filings or visa applications at U.S. consulates abroad. The proposed increases for business immigration benefits, including H-1B registrations, H-1B/L-1/E/TN petitions, I-140 petitions, and I-485 applications, are significant. As such, companies should consider setting aside an additional budget buffer to comfortably navigate any fee increases the government may impose.
  2. Legal and Other Professional Expenses: Immigration law is a technical field, and companies may benefit from the input of legal counsel to avoid rejections or delays. When weighing the risk, potential delay, and importance of a company’s international talent, the value of immigration counsel becomes evident. Consequently, companies should anticipate incurring legal expenses, including flat rate and hourly fees, in navigating complex immigration issues.
  3. Transition Costs for Permanent (Green Card) Sponsorship: When preparing an immigration budget, companies should recognize that each stage of an employee’s U.S. immigration process has different costs. Understanding where employees are in their immigration lifecycle helps forecast costs for the upcoming year. The green card process features transitional expenses for the green card application in addition to the cost of maintaining the employee’s current work authorization, and the immigration budget should reflect these expenses.
  4. Immigration Compliance Costs: An employer’s compliance with Form I-9 requirements, immigration-related anti-discrimination provisions, sponsorship obligations, and compliance with E-Verify rules entails recurrent expenses. Companies should factor into the immigration budget the costs of ongoing compliance training, internal audits, and electronic system upgrades, such as for an I-9 software.
  5. Costs Due to Organizational or Policy Changes: If the company contemplates mergers or acquisitions in the new year, higher immigration-related costs may result from these transactions. Company growth and increased hiring needs may also require the business to rely on additional immigration-supported employees. Additionally, updates to company policies in the new year could impact immigration-related expenses. For example, a company-wide work-from-home policy could require amendments or new immigration filings.