US Immigration News

Increased H-1B Visa Fees Prooves That Labor is Expensive

3 minute read
"The House Reconciliation Bill, which is expected to be voted on soon, will make filing an H-1B petition even more expensive. The most common misconception about the immigration of highly skilled foreign workers is that they add no value to the American economy except offering cheap labor."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Nov 22, 2021
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The House Reconciliation Bill, which is expected to be voted on soon, will make filing an H-1B petition even more expensive. The most common misconception about the immigration of highly skilled foreign workers is that they add no value to the American economy except offering cheap labor. This misconception persists even though the key people behind discovering a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus are former international students, that is, H-1B Visa holders. 

For most international students, the H-1B Visa is an important pathway to building their lives in the US. It is the first step in their immigration journey. The House Reconciliation Bill, if passed, will make it more expensive for employers to file petitions for such dreamers. The most recent version of the bill will add a supplemental fee of $500 to the existing fee for H-1B Visa petitions. This is among the many other fee increases included in the bill passed by the House Judiciary Committee in September 2021. 

What US Visa Fees Have Been Increased by the House Reconciliation Bill?

Visa processing fees for the following visa programs have been increased in the House Reconciliation Bill:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (for certain family-based immigrant petitions): $100
  • Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (for all employment-based visa petitions): $800
  • Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur (for EB-5 Visa petitions): $15,000
  • Form I-94/I-94W, Arrival/Departure Forms: $19 
  • F-1 Student Visa and the M-1 Student Visa, and J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa: $250 
  • Replace an expired or expiring Green Card: $500
  • Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (E, H-1B, L, O Visas, or P Visas status): $500
  • Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status: $50
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization: $500
  • An Approved Nonimmigrant Visa: $75

How Will the Increased Fee Affect H-1B Visa Holders?

According to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), employers will have to spend as much as $31,800 to complete the initial filing process of an H-1B Visa petition and an extension for additional 3 years. The initial filing process would include the following steps:

  • Application fee: $460
  • New supplemental fee: $500
  • Attorney fee: Between $1,500- $4,000
  • Additional legal fees: Between $2,000 to $4,500, if there is a Request for Evidence
  • Scholarship and training fee: $750-$1,500
  • Anti-fraud fee: $500
  • Premium processing fee: $2,500
  • Additional fee for employers who have a higher proportion of H-1B Visa workers in their workforce: $4,000
  • Visa fee: $190

A US employer will be required to pay for most of the expenses mentioned above to get the foreign worker an H-1B Visa and then again for an extension. If the employer wants to sponsor the H-1B Visa worker for permanent residence, they’ll likely be required to pay an additional $10,000-$15,000 or more. 

According to the US Immigration law, US employers are obliged to pay at least the actual wage level to the foreign worker as paid to all other workers with similar experience and education qualifications. Or the offered wage must meet the prevailing wage level for that specific occupation in that geographical area. It depends on whichever one is greater. 

The Government Accountability Office (GOA) found that foreign workers in the Electrical/Electronics Engineering Occupations earn $5,000 more compared to US engineers. Overall, H-1B Visa workers in STEM occupations have a higher wage level compared to US workers. Therefore, it is not true that foreign IT professionals are paid less. However, every year the Department of Labor finds several companies in violation of the law who underpay their H-1B Visa workers.

How Will the US Employers Be Affected?

US employers already face uncertainty when petitioning for H-1B Visa workers. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offer a total of 85,000 H-1B Visas every year. In 2021, the USCIS received around 308,000 petitions for the H-1B Visas. Around 72% of these petitions were rejected before they could be evaluated due to the low annual limit. Even if US employers are successful in petitioning and hiring an H-1B Visa worker, there is no guarantee that the worker will receive US permanent residence to continue working in the US. 

This means that they’ll have to start the process all over again. This process is about to become even more expensive if the House Reconciliation Bill is passed and becomes a law. Employers will be forced to pay additional fees to hire highly skilled foreign workers and international students as the H-1B Visa is the only way for them to work long-term in the US.

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