Are you filing for the H1B visa 2017-2018 season? If so, then you’re likely wondering what sort of filing fees and costs are associated with the process. By law, many of the H1B visa fees in 2017 must be paid by the employer or sponsoring company. However, there are some third-party costs related to the petition preparation that may be paid by either the employer or the foreign worker.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The USCIS has just announced that the 2017-2018 H1B season is over. The released numbers state that 199,000 petitions were submitted during the filing window between April 3rd and April 6th. Read more about the H1B 2018 results and statistics in our breaking news post.
In this article, we’ll explore some frequently asked questions regarding H1B visa fees such as:
- Am I responsible for the filing cost or is my employer supposed to pay?
- How much is the H1B visa premium processing fee and will it guarantee an approval?
- How do the H1B processing fees compare to previous season? Have they increased?
- What is the H1B visa fee due to USCIS? What is the lawyer fee?
For those that learn visually, here is a detailed video describing the H1B processing fees for 2017.
It’s important to have a thorough understanding of all these costs prior to filing to avoid any unwelcome surprises. Since there are some gray areas regarding who is responsible for certain fees, it is advised to consult an immigration attorney with your case specifics.
As previously mentioned, the sponsoring company or employer should take care of handling the H1B visa fees for 2017 (with the exception of third party costs). With that said, it’s still necessary for all parties to be completely aware of the filing fees charged.
There are a number of factors to take into consideration, as outlined below:
- Standard (Basic Filing) Fee: The standard (basic) H1B filing fee is $460 for the I-129 petition. This H1B visa fee is also applicable to transfers, amendments, and renewals.
- ACWIA (Training) Fee: For employers who have between 1-25 full-time workers, the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act fee is $750. For employers with 26 or more full-time employees, the fee is $1,500. Some organizations are exempt from this training fee including non-profits with affiliations to educational institutions, governmental research organizations, primary/secondary educational institutions, etc.
- Fraud Prevention & Detection Fee: This $500 fee is applicable to new H1B petitioners or those changing employers. It exists to help the USCIS ferret out those who plan to use this visa fraudulently. This H1B visa fee is not required for extensions with the same sponsoring employer.
- Public Law 114-113 Fee: This H1B visa fee is applicable to companies that have upwards of 50 employees with over half on H1B or L1 status. The additional fee for these companies is $4,000.
- Optional Fees: Premium processing is an option available to those who want to expedite the H1B visa process. This service is offered by the Department of Homeland Security and guarantees a 15-day processing time frame. In order to use this feature, you must complete form I-907 along with the $1,225 fee. Again, this is one of the optional visa fees. Another optional expense is if family members apply to be H4 dependents of the applicant by filing out form DS-160.
- Attorney Fees (vary): H1B attorney fees can vary tremendously. We offer a flat fee for our services.
Are These Fees the Same As Previous Years?
It is important to pay careful attention to USCIS announcements so that you can stay up-to-date on the latest fees and prevent delays or rejections on account of submitting the wrong fee.
As of December 23, 2016, the basic filing fee for the I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker saw a large hike as they increased from $325 to $460. Make sure you include this new amount with your petition to have it filed correctly.
Also, the previously active Public Law 111-230 has been replaced by the new Public Law 114-113. This increases the additional fee from $2,000 to $4,000 for employers that have over 50 workers with more than half of those under H-1B or L-1 status.
This fee is not applicable to employers who are filing for an extension for the same employee or amended petitions.The Public Law fee must be paid in a separate check and made out to the Department of Homeland Security.
While this article covers all of the necessary and up-to-date fees, it is always a good idea to review your situation with your immigration attorney. This will help you get a better understanding of the total cost involved with obtaining an H-1B visa and help make sure that you are filing all of the correct fees to the right places.
How can I Get a Refund?
Usually, the USCIS keeps the filing fees even if your petition is denied. However, there is an H1B processing fee refund for all petitions that were not selected in the annual lottery. Other circumstances for a fee refund include:
- If the USCIS requests a form that was not necessary and asked for a fee
- If the amount requested was more than the appropriate amount
- If the USCIS fails to adjudicate a petition that was filed with a premium processing fee in 15 calendar days.
Who is Responsible for H1B Visa Fees in 2017?
There may be some confusion as to who is responsible for some of the visa fees. Hopefully, this section will clarify the issue.
- Standard (Basic) Filing Fee: Employer is responsible
- ACWIA (Training Fee): Employer is responsible
- Fraud Prevention/Detection Fee: Employer is responsible
- Public Law 114-113 Fee: Employer is responsible
- Premium Processing Fee: Either you or the employer. If paid by you, the employer needs to prove that it was expedited strictly for personal reasons and not for the benefit of the petitioning employer.
- Visa Fee: This fee involved with attaining your H1B visa at the U.S. consulate is the petitioner’s expense.
Does Premium Processing Help My Chances?
As previously stated, premium processing is a service provided by the USCIS that shortens the processing time for your I-129 petition to 15 calendar days for an H1B visa fee of $1,225.
However, this cost has not been included in the mandatory H1B visa fees 2017 because it is optional and is usually not recommended for most H1B cases. This is due to the fact that opting for premium processing does not increase your chances of selection or approval. It also does not change your earliest employment start date: October 1, 2017.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of March 3, 2017, the USCIS will be temporarily suspending the premium processing service for all H1B petitions filed for the 2018 season.
This suspension will take effect on April 3, 2017, which is the day that the USCIS will begin accepting petitions. Therefore all petitions filed under H1B status, including petitions filed under the master’s degree exemption, will not be eligible for premium processing for up to six months
Because this premium processing suspension also applies to H1B transfers and extensions, which can be more time sensitive, you should speak with your immigration attorney to find an alternative route if you are pressed for time with your case.
How Should These Payments Be Made?
Your payment options for visa fees are relatively limited. According to the I-129 form, the applicable payments must be submitted with the petition in the form of money orders or checks. Each individual fee requires it’s own separate money order or check.
How Much Will It Cost to Extend My Visa
The H1B extension fees include the filing fee for another I-129 petition and the optional premium processing fee. The other fees (Public Law, ACWIA, and Anti-Fraud) are only applicable once per beneficiary per employer.
Important Dates To Keep in Mind
Mark your calendars! Below are important dates to remember in relation to the H1B visa 2017-2018 season.
April 1st: USCIS begins accepting H1B visa petitions. Note that because of the fact that April 1 falls on a Saturday in 2017, the USCIS will accept petitions but will not start processing them until the first business day, April 3rd.
April 7th: We predict that USCIS will stop accepting H1B visa petitions. Due to the vast amount of petitions received by the USCIS last year, we do not think that the lottery will remain open for more than 5 business days.
October 1st: The petition cannot be filed/approved more than 6 months prior to the beginning date of employment. The end date given in the petition should also be the same as the expiration of your Labor Condition Application.
How Our H1B Attorneys Can Help
Here at SGM Law Group, we know how complex the immigration process can be. A misfiled document or wrong filing fee can result in a delay that may cost your position in the H1B visa lottery. This is why we make it our mission to help petitioners gather and file all necessary information and alleviate any concerns related to H1B fees in 2017.
- We offer a flat fee for our professional legal services.
Contact us to receive your H1B visa consultation or learn more about the H1B visa fees 2017. Certain petitioners may qualify for a free consultation.