US government increases H-1B fees

US government increases H-1B fees

The Trump administration announced it would increase US immigration fees in multiple categories, including H-1B and L-1 visa fees. 

The new fee structure, unveiled by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is expected to take effect October 2, 2020.

H-1B visas are issued to skilled workers when their employers in the United States can demonstrate that suitably qualified staff cannot be found locally. And L-1 visas can be granted to employees transferring to a US company from a foreign subsidiary. It’s worth reminding that visas for skilled foreign workers have been suspended at least until December 31, 2020.

Here is what will change from October:

1. The filing fee will increase from $460 to $555 for H-1B petitions and to $805 for L-1 petitions. This fee is also payable for visa extensions. 

Along with cost increases for the H-1B and L visas, the new rule specifies broad increases in the fees for other visas. Employment authorization for H-1B spouses on the H-4 visa will rise to $550. Fees for filing O visas (extraordinary ability/achievement) will increase from $460 to $750. The price of applying for citizenship will nearly double to $1,160 or $1,170, depending on the filing method. 

2. Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fees will be extended to visa renewals. These fees are $4,000 or $4,500 for all petitioners filing an H-1B or L-1 petition, respectively, who employ 50 or more people in the United States if more than 50% of the employees are in H-1B or L-1 status. Under a 2015 law, these fees have been charged only for new petitions. 

3. Premium processing will take longer. The cost of premium processing will remain the same — $1,440. However, USCIS will now process a case within 15 business days, rather than the current 15 calendar days. That means it will take up to 4 days longer for employers to receive decisions when paying the premium processing fee.

Here is the list of fees associated with H-1B and L-1 visas (with new prices that will take effect October 2020):

  • Filing fee: $555 for H-1B petitions or $805 for L-1 petitions
  • ACWIA fee (American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act fee): $1,500 or $750 (if the company employs 25 or fewer full-time employees)
  • Fraud detection and prevention fee: $500 (not required for extensions with the same employer)
  • Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee: $4,000 for H-1B petitions or $4,500 for L-1 petitions
  • Premium processing fee: $1,440

All fees are paid by the employer (a sponsor company) filing the petition for a foreign worker. The premium processing fee may be paid by the applicant.

In total, US employers wishing to hire a foreign skilled worker must pay between $5,800 and $7,300, excluding the premium processing fee.

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