The fiscal year 2024 (FY 2024) H-1B visa season demands a meticulous understanding of H-1B extension costs, amendment charges, transfer expenses, and more.
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Overview of H-1B Visa Costs
The cost of applying for an H-1B visa ranges between $1,700 and $6,500. The specific amount hinges on several variables such as optional fees, attorney charges, and employer requirements.
While all applicants must pay the $10 registration fee, only selected lottery candidates need to cover the additional fees. It is imperative for all involved parties to grasp the comprehensive details of H-1B filing fees. Consulting a legal expert, such as VisaNation Law Group, before entering the lottery is highly recommended.
H-1B Visa Cost/ Fee Table
Below is an updated breakdown of H-1B costs:
Responsible for Fee
Premium Processing (optional)
Employer or Employee
Public Law 114-113 Fee
Basic Filing Fee
USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee
ACWIA Education and Training Fee
$750 (< 25 employees)
$1,500 (> 25 employees)
Specific Fee Breakdown
Registration fee: A flat $10 charged to the employer for entering a beneficiary into the H-1B visa cap.
Standard Fee: The filing fee for the I-129 petition is $460, applicable to various H-1B processes like transfers, amendments, and renewals.
ACWIA Training Fee: Ranges from $750 to $1,500 based on employer size, with certain exemptions for specific organizations.
Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: A $500 fee for new H-1B petitioners or those changing employers.
Public Law 114-113 Fee: Imposed on companies with over 50 employees and more than half on H-1B or L-1 status, amounting to $4,000.
Premium processing: Accelerates the H-1B visa process to 15 days for $2,500. Not recommended for new H-1B cases as it doesn’t enhance selection or approval chances.
Varies greatly based on firms and case stages. For instance:
Initial registration process: $550
Selected case filing: $1,900
Response to a Request For Evidence (RFE): $500 – $1,500
Example 1: For-Profit Technology Firm A
H-1B Users: 60% of the workforce
Base Fee: $460
Fraud Fee: $500
ACWIA Fee: $1,500
Public Law 114-113 Fee: $4,000
H-1B Premium Processing Fee: $2,500
Total H-1B petition cost: $8,960 (excluding attorney fees)
Example 2: H-1B Worker Transfer to Company Zebra
John, an existing H-1B employee, transferring to Company Zebra.
Exceptions include beneficiaries paying premium processing fees and consular processing visa fees. Employers must fulfill their financial obligations to avoid audits confirming fee payments.
H-1B Visa Fees 2023-24: Additional Insights
Labor Condition Application (LCA)
The LCA does not incur a fee, but it’s a mandatory component for all H-1B visas, requiring employers to adhere to Department of Labor (DOL) attestations.
USCIS Fee Refunds
Under specific circumstances like unnecessary form requests or overpayment, refunds may be applicable. Notably, USCIS keeps filing fees for petitions not selected in the lottery.
H-1B Premium Processing and Its Relevance
Premium processing, while optional, expedites processing time but doesn’t enhance selection chances or alter employment start dates. Extensions, renewals, or transfers might benefit from premium processing.
Payment Procedures for H-1B Filing Fees
Stringent payment options include money orders or checks, with each fee necessitating a separate transaction. Errors in fee payment or filing result in petition rejection, emphasizing the need for legal guidance.
The Importance of the Filing Window for the H-1B Cap Petition
Upon receiving the selection notice for an H-1B cap petition, it is crucial to pay close attention to the filing window specified in the notice. You’ll generally have 90 days to file the complete H-1B cap petition after receiving the selection notice.
This window is a critical timeframe within which all necessary actions related to the H-1B petition must be completed. It involves fulfilling registration requirements, paying the requisite fees, and submitting all the necessary documentation. Failing to adhere to this timeline may result in the forfeiture of the opportunity and the need to reapply in subsequent seasons.
Therefore, meticulous planning and coordination with your immigration attorney during this period are vital. It ensures that all necessary steps are taken promptly and accurately, optimizing the chances of a successful outcome for the H-1B cap petition.
H-1B Visa Denials and Challenges
Despite meticulous preparation and adherence to all the requirements, H-1B visa petitions can face denials or challenges during the adjudication process. USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or even deny the petition outright.
An RFE necessitates a detailed response addressing the specific queries raised by USCIS. Typically, this involves providing additional documentation or clarifications to support the H-1B application. The response to an RFE is time-sensitive and must be comprehensive to effectively address USCIS concerns.
In cases of denials, applicants have the option to appeal or file a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider. However, these processes involve specific guidelines and deadlines and should ideally be handled by experienced immigration attorneys. Each situation is unique, and the appropriate course of action post-denial depends on the circumstances of the case.
Maintaining Legal Compliance During H-1B Employment
Once the H-1B petition is approved, beneficiaries are legally authorized to work in the United States under the specified terms and conditions. However, it’s imperative to maintain compliance with all H-1B regulations throughout the employment period.
Employers and beneficiaries must adhere to the terms of the approved H-1B petition, including the job role, location, and compensation. Any significant changes in these aspects may necessitate filing amendments or seeking appropriate USCIS approvals.
Employers are responsible for notifying USCIS of material changes in the employment conditions of H-1B workers. Failure to comply with these regulations could lead to penalties, revocation of the H-1B status, or adverse immigration consequences for the beneficiary.
Navigating the Path to Permanent Residency (Green Card) through H-1B
One of the significant advantages of the H-1B visa is its dual intent feature, allowing beneficiaries to pursue lawful permanent residency (green card) while on H-1B status. Individuals considering this path need to be aware of the process, requirements, and associated costs.
Obtaining a green card through employment typically involves multiple stages, including Labor Certification (PERM) and the I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. Each stage incurs its own set of fees, documentation, and processing times. Engaging legal counsel is often recommended to navigate this complex and crucial process successfully.
Moreover, beneficiaries can also explore avenues for family-based sponsorship or extraordinary ability categories (EB-1) for green card eligibility, provided they meet the stringent criteria outlined by USCIS.
The H-1B visa remains a coveted pathway for skilled foreign workers seeking employment opportunities in the United States. Understanding the intricacies of H-1B visa fees, the application process, compliance obligations, and pathways to permanent residency is crucial for employers and beneficiaries alike.
Staying abreast of evolving immigration policies, seeking expert legal guidance, and meticulous preparation are essential strategies for maximizing the chances of a successful H-1B visa application and navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration law.