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What Is The Company’s Cost To Sponsor H-1B Visa?

A company that sponsors an employee on H-1B visa must pay USCIS fees and attorney fees for the H-1B visa petition filed with the USCIS. In hiring the H-1B employee, the company also must pay the H-1B employee a wage rate required under the law.

USCIS Filing Fees:

USCIS filing fees vary depending on the type of the petitioning employer, the number and type of the company’s employees, type of the filing (i.e., initial H-1B petition, extension of H-1B status), whether the petition is cap-subject, and choice on premium processing.

In general, USCIS filing fees for an initial H-1B petition range from $500 to $8,970, and consist of the following:

1. Electronic Registration Fee: $10 (Starting April 1, 2024, $215)1 (cap-subject H-1B petition only)

The electronic registration fee applies to a cap-subject H-1B petition. In 2020, USCIS implemented an electronic registration process for the H-1B cap. A company seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including for the H-1B employee eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay a $10 H-1B registration fee for each H-1B employee. Starting April 1, 2024, the registration fee will increase to $215.

USCIS will open an initial registration period for a minimum of 14 calendar days each fiscal year. USCIS will then run the H-1B selection process on properly submitted electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

2. Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) Filing Fee: $460 (Starting April 1, 2024, $780 in principle or $460 for Small Employers and Nonprofits2 plus Asylum Program Fees of $600 in principle or $300 for Small Employers3)

The Form I-129 filing fee applies to the following type of filing:

  • Initial H-1B petition
  • Change of H-1B employers
  • Petition requesting an H-1B extension
  • Amendment of H-1B petition

This filing fee is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of your petition. The fee is also non-refundable even if you withdraw the petition.

3. ACWIA (American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act) Fee: $1,500/$750

The ACWIA fee varies depending on the number of employees that sponsoring company has:

  • $1,500 for a company with more than 25 full-time equivalent employees
  • $750 for a company with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees

When determining whether a company must pay this fee, the company must count its full-time equivalent employees in the U.S., including those at any of the company’s U.S. affiliates or subsidiaries.

The ACWIA fee applies to the following types of filing:

  • Initial H-1B petition
  • Change of H-1B employers
  • First petition requesting an H-1B extension

The ACWIA fee is not required for the following types of filing:

  • Amendment of an H-1B petition that does not contain any requests for an extension of stay
  • Second or subsequent petition requesting an H-1B extension
  • An H-1B petition solely to correct a USCIS error

Additionally, the ACWIA fee is not required if the organization that sponsors an H-1B employee is a(n):

  • Institutions of higher education;
  • Nonprofit entity that is related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education;
  • Nonprofit or governmental research organization;
  • Primary or secondary educational institution; or
  • Nonprofit entity which engages in an established curriculum-related clinical training program for students.

4. Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: $500

The Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee applies to the following types of filing:

  • Initial H-1B petition4
  • Change of H-1B employers

The Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee is not required for the following types of filing:

  • Petition requesting an H-1B extension
  • Amendment of an H-1B petition

5. Public Law 114-113 fee: $4,000 (if applicable)

The Public Law 114-113 fee applies to a company that employs 50 or more employees in the U.S. and more than 50% of those employees are in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status.

When determining whether a company must pay the Public Law fee, the company must count all its full-time and part-time employees. Employees of related entities will not count.

In addition, when calculating the percentage of the employees in H-1B or L-1 status, the company must calculate based on the number of employees it has in the U.S., regardless of whether they are paid through a U.S. or foreign payroll.

The fee under Public Law 114-113 is required when the Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee is also required.

As such, the Public Law fee applies to the following type of filing:

  • Initial H-1B petition5
  • Change of H-1B employers

The Public Law fee is not required for the following type of filing:

  • Petition requesting an H-1B extension
  • Amendment of H-1B petition

This Public Law fee applies to petitions filed on or after Dec. 18, 2015. The fee is in effect until Sept. 30, 2027.

6. Premium Processing Fee: $2,500 ($2,805 for Filings Postmarked on or after Feb 26, 2024) (optional)

Premium processing provides expedited processing for Form I-129 petition for H-1B. USCIS guarantees processing within 15 calendar days to those who use this service. Otherwise, USCIS will refund the premium processing service fee and will continue with expedited processing.

Unlike other fees, USCIS states that the sponsoring company or the H-1B employee can pay the premium processing fee. In general, if the premium processing is filed for the benefit of the sponsoring company, the company will pay the premium processing fee. Premium processing is currently available for all H-1B petitions.

Consular Fees:

If the H-1B employee is abroad, additional fees at the consulate (currently $205) are required.

Attorney Fees:

A sponsoring company also must pay attorney fees for the H-1B petition. The fees can vary depending on the geographical area or type of attorney fees (i.e., billable, or flat fee). In general, it would cost a few thousand dollars.

H-1B employee’s wage requirements:

Lastly, a company that sponsors an H-1B employee must pay the H-1B employee at least a wage which is higher of:

  • The actual wage paid to similarly qualified workers, or
  • The prevailing wage for the position in the geographic area in which the H-1B employee will be working.

Actual Wage

The actual wage is the wage rate paid by the sponsoring company to all individuals with experience and qualifications similar to the H-1B employee’s experience and qualifications for the specific employment at the employment place. If there are no similarly employed workers, the actual wage is the wage paid to the H-1B employee.

Prevailing Wage

The prevailing wage is the wage rate set for the occupational classification in the geographical area of employment by:

  • A union contract which contains a wage rate applicable to the occupation; or
  • For an occupation not covered by a union contract, the weighted average of wages paid to similarly employed workers (i.e., workers having substantially comparable jobs in the occupational classification) in the geographic area of employment.

A common prevailing wage source is the State Workforce Agency operating in each state.

Other Wage Requirement

If a sponsoring company pays an H-1B employee a wage rate less than required under the law, after an opportunity for a hearing, the Department of Labor has the authority to order the employer to pay the required wage rate.

Additionally, the sponsoring company must pay the guaranteed minimum hours that it reported in Form I-129, even if no work is provided to the H-1B employee. However, if the H-1B employee is unavailable for work because of non-work related factors such as voluntary time off, the company does not have to pay the guaranteed minimum hours.

U.S. Employer’s Liability for Transportation Costs:

An H-1B employer will be liable for the reasonable costs of return transportation of the H-1B beneficiary abroad if the beneficiary is dismissed from employment by the employer before the end of the period of authorized stay. If the beneficiary voluntarily terminates his/her employment before the H-1B status expires, the beneficiary has not been dismissed. “Abroad” means the beneficiary’s last place of foreign residence.

Related Blog: “What is an H-1B Visa?

Disclaimer

  1. Update on Feb. 4, 2024. ↩︎
  2. Update on Feb. 4, 2024. ↩︎
  3. Update on Feb. 15, 2024. Nonprofits organizations do not have to pay the Asylum Program Fees. ↩︎
  4. Petitioners do not need to pay the Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee and the Pub. L. 114-113 Fee again if filing another petition for the same beneficiary for the same nonimmigrant classification. The Pub. L. 114-113 is also not required with an extension of stay petition if the fee was not in effect at the time of the initial filing. These fees would be required if the beneficiary has been outside of the United States for more than 1 year and the petitioner is requesting a “new” initial grant of H-1B nonimmigrant status, or if the petitioner is filing to employ the beneficiary in a different nonimmigrant classification than the one obtained previously. For example, filing a petition to change a beneficiary’s nonimmigrant status from L-1 to H-1B. Petitioners who request revocation of a petition because the beneficiary who held H-1B status left that employer before the expiration date of his or her status do not need to pay the Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee if the petitioner re-files for the same beneficiary at a later date and the petitioner is not requesting a “new” initial grant of the same status. ↩︎
  5. See footnote 1. ↩︎

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