H1-B visas are among the most sought-after visas for foreign nationals wanting to move to the United States to work. This is because it allows US employers to employ highly qualified foreign nationals. However, only a few H1-B visas have been issued to even the most qualified and skilled applicants.
Getting an H1-B visa can be daunting (refer to our early guide on the H1-B visa process that will help you understand how to maximize your chances of getting one). The H1-B visa process is complex, not just because of the high standards and rigorous vetting that come with it.
There are also various fees associated with H1-B applications, which vary depending on the applicant’s status and individual circumstances. There are so many fees to think about. You have basic fees, fraud prevention fees, premium processing fees, and more.
It is essential to know them all before you begin your application, especially those specific to your country of origin. An immigration attorney in Texas can help you identify the fees unique to your home country. The H1-B visa application process does come with some costs, as most of the necessary processing fees for H1-B visas are paid by US employers.
The H1-B visa fees vary from company to company, and the fee increases with the number of employees. Costs for this visa have also fluctuated slightly over the last few years. Consulting an immigration attorney in Texas is an excellent idea to help you financially prepare for the H1-B visa process.
This post has broken down everything you need about the H1-B visa fees. Hence, you know the financial implications of applying for the H1-B visa.
The H1-B visa cost: who pays?
There are several H1-B visa expenses and fees that you will need to pay as part of your H1-B registration/applications or when you apply for an extension or change status. Some of these costs will be paid by your employer or sponsoring company. You will pay some of them as an employee.
Any H1-B petition filed with the wrong filing fee will be denied. Payment of fees for H1-B applications must be made promptly and correctly. Your employer or sponsor will pay some fees, while others will be paid by you when you travel to the United States to work.
All payments must be paid before the expiration date of any H1-B applications. You should consult with an immigration attorney in Texas to ensure you have paid the correct fees; otherwise, your H1-B may be delayed or even denied by USCIS. If your H1-B is rejected, then any fees you pay are non-refundable.
Who receives the payments?
You pay fees to two major visa agencies from when you register to when your visa is stamped on your passport. These agencies are:
- The USCIS – To apply for the petition, you must first register with USCIS and pay an initial registration fee. Then, you will need to pay an application fee and other fees.
- The Department of States in the US (or US consulates) – Foreign professionals who file petitions from outside the United States are also required to have a valid H1-B visa stamp. This is what will enable them to enter the United States and work in the country. The employee will apply for a US visa at the consulate or embassy of their home country. You will pay a fee for consular processing as a potential H1-B visa holder.
It is essential to know the specific fees for these agencies and when to make the payments. An immigration attorney in Texas can guide you in this direction.
Some H1-B visa application fees
1. The baseline fee
The H-1-B visa basic fee is $460. This is the basic fee for filing an initial I-129 application. This fee is the same as last year but increased from $325 to $460. It is crucial to keep up to date with the changes in fees to ensure your application is processed correctly.
Before filing an application, always talk with an immigration attorney in Texas and visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. A basic filing fee is required for a first-time visa application and when you wish to transfer or change your visa status or renew your visa.
The employer is responsible for covering this fee because it is their responsibility to bring in a foreign national to meet their employment needs.
2. Statutory fees.
These are fees required to be paid by specific US laws. They include:
The AICWA fee –
The 1998 AICWA Act established a fee for hiring and training foreign nationals instead of American workers. The fee is also known as the “training” fee. Since the training and accompanying fees are business expenses, the employer is responsible for paying them.
There are two types of employers under AICWA: those with less than 25 full-time employees and those with over 25 full-time employees. For the first set of US employers, the AICWA fee is $750. The AICWA fee for other US employers with more than 25 workers is $1500.
Some organizations that hire foreign nationals aren’t subject to the AICWA fee. These include primary and secondary schools, government research institutions, and non-profit organizations dealing with education.
Public law fee –
Public law 114-113 requires businesses with over 50 employees, with more than half of them being H1-B visa holders/L-1 visa holders, to pay a fee of $4000. This fee punishes larger businesses that hire many foreign workers instead of hiring Americans.
Businesses must pay the fee. For example, if a company has 50 employees and more than 50 are on an H1-B visa/L-1 visa, the company must pay a fee of $4000 for each new hire.
3. Fees to check fraud.
This fee is $500 and applies when you file for an H1-B visa or change employers. It doesn’t apply when you are renewing. The employer must pay the fee because it is a business expense mandated by law.
The fee gives USCIS the authority to screen you and deny fraudulent applications. It also adds another obstacle you must overcome in your H1-B visa process, reducing the number of applications processed.
4. Premium fee
Processing an H1-B visa can take weeks or months, which can be inconvenient for applicants who want to submit their applications as quickly as possible. You can get your visa processed in as little as 15 calendar days for $2500 by paying the Premium Processing fee.
The premium processing fee is optional and does not affect your approval likelihood. You can pay for it yourself or have your employer pay for it for you. If you pay for the premium fee, you will be required to provide an employer-written justification for why it was necessary to pay the premium fee.
This helps to protect employees from being forced by their US employers to pay for premium processing.
5. Visa stamping fee
When H1-B applicants live outside of the United States, they must go through the visa stamping process for H1-B visas. Once USCIS has approved H1-B petitions, the applicant must follow the US visa stamping process to apply for the visa. The visa stamping fees are as follows:
Visa H1-B Application Fee: $190
This fee is for the issuance of H1-B visas. You must pay this fee to get a visa stamp appointment, biometric, visa interview appointment, and visa stamping. You can visit the US Department of State website or an immigration attorney in Texas to see this fee.
6. Fees for photos, translation, transport, etc
These are administrative fees that vary from case to case. All fees associated with your US visa application and stamping are your responsibility. Some employers have an immigration/travel department, and they will book the visa appointment and cover the visa fee.
7. Extension and transfer fee.
The only fee you must pay when transferring or extending your H1-B visa will be the basic I-129 filing fee. The employer will pay the Premium Processing fee, but the employee can opt to pay this fee.
8. Professional fee.
H1-B applications vary significantly in complexity and requirements, depending on the applicant’s situation and what they try to achieve in the US. Because of the wide range of options and potential problems that can arise during the application process, many people find it necessary to hire an immigration attorney in Texas.
Some people wait until problems arise before hiring an attorney, while others employ an attorney to manage the entire application process from start to finish. Hiring an immigration attorney in Texas can help increase your chances of acceptance, especially in complex cases.
The cost of hiring an immigration lawyer varies greatly, ranging from $1500-$3000 or more.
Is there a refund of fees?
In most cases, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will keep the fee whether your application is accepted or rejected. On the other hand, if your application was placed in the annual lottery but you weren’t selected, you may be eligible for a fee refund. You may also be eligible for a refund if you:
- Received an unnecessary document from the USCIS by mistake and were charged a fee for it;
- Received an incorrect amount from the USCIS for the same document;
- Take longer than 15 business days from when you paid for Premium Processing.
One of the main reasons H1-B visas are so difficult to obtain is the large number of fees that come with the process. This often makes many US employers and foreign employees lose track of their case.
If you are in this situation, there is no need to worry! At Gehi and Associates, we can simplify the fees payable to you and give you outstanding results that will make your efforts worth it. Contact us today.
1. Is there a fee for LCA or PERM certification?
There is no cost associated with the LCA or PERM labor certification. Your employer must provide these certifications required by the DOL.
2. What will I be paid in my job as an H1-B visa holder?
The prevailing wage rate for H1-B workers is the general minimum wage threshold of $60,000 annually. However, if the actual wage for an H1-B job exceeds this threshold, the H1-B worker must be paid at least that higher amount.
3. Will premium processing increase my success rate?
Premium processing reduces the time to process an I-129 petition by 15 calendar days. However, premium processing is optional and is generally not recommended for most H1-B new cases. Premium processing will not improve your chances of being approved. It is incorrect to assume that premium processing will lead to cap-exempt status or change your earliest employment start date.