Understanding the ins and outs of the most popular U.S. work visa can save you both time and money. The H-1B has several fees that are unique and set it apart from other nonimmigrant visas. Knowing what these fees are, how they should be paid, and who is responsible for them is essential to avoiding simple errors that can result in the rejection or denial of your registration or petition. If you are filing for this visa for the 2021 season, this post will help you understand the H-1B visa fees.
IMPORTANT UPDATE (3/21/2020): Premium processing has been temporarily suspended for all cap-subject petitions in the 2021 season.
IMPORTANT UPDATE (3/30/2020): The USCIS has just announced that it has received sufficient H-1B registrations and has successfully conducted the 2021 lottery. To find out how you can see whether your registration was selected, read this update.
We’ll explore some frequently asked questions regarding H-1B visa fees such as:
- How does the new H-1B registration process change the necessary fees?
- Am I responsible for the filing cost or is my employer supposed to pay?
- How much is the H-1B visa premium processing fee and will it guarantee an approval?
- What H-1B visa fees are required by the USCIS? What is the lawyer fee?
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.
New H-1B Registration Process
President Trump signed an executive order into effect in April of 2017 called the Buy American and Hire American order. This called for the USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security to take measures to refine the H-1B process so that it aligns more with the administration’s goals of ensuring that more highly-skilled and highly-paid immigrants are able to obtain the visa.
The first thing to note about the new H-1B 2020 season is that the old petitioning system has been replaced by a registration system that will take effect this year. Rather than entering petitions into the H-1B lottery, the USCIS will now only accept online registrations.
Each sponsor will need to register their beneficiary in order to enter the lottery instead of filing petitions to do so. After the lottery is conducted, the sponsors whose registrations were selected will be able to file petitions. This is for the USCIS to avoid having to sift through hundreds of thousands of petitions and refund all of those that were not selected.
While this changes many aspects of the lottery, perhaps one of the biggest changes is the required fees. Because sponsors are no longer filing petitions in order to enter the lottery, the fees you will see later on in this post are not applicable unless the sponsor’s registration is chosen. Instead, the sponsor will be responsible for a $10 registration fee. While the petition fees in the past were refunded if the petition was not chosen in the lottery, the registration fee will not be refunded if it is not chosen.
This new change will also likely decrease the chances of being selected, as registrations are much easier and cheaper to submit than petitions. This means that there will likely be far more entries this year than in years past.
According to the USCIS, this will serve to avoid them having to sift through tens or even hundreds of thousands of petitions. It also will serve to avoid having employers file fees and having to subsequently return the fees of those that were not selected. This does not technically save the employer any money (since the entire fee would be returned to them), but it is worth noting that employers and beneficiaries are not responsible for H-1B filing fees unless their registration is selected in the lottery.
Submitting Multiple Registrations
While this new registration process makes entering the lottery much easier for sponsors, there are rules that must be followed to avoid being disqualified. For one, a single sponsor cannot file more than one registration for any one beneficiary. However, a single sponsor can file registrations for multiple beneficiaries and a single beneficiary can have multiple registrations filed by different sponsors. Here are some examples to illustrate.
Example 1: Judy is being sponsored by one employer, Widget Inc. Widget Inc. files three petitions for Judy to help her chances of being selected in the lottery. In this case, all three of the registrations filed by Widget Inc. for Judy will be denied.
Example 2: David is being sponsored by three employers. Each of these three employers files a single registration for David, which totals three registrations. Because only one registration was filed per employer, all three of David’s registrations are valid.
Example 3: Widget Inc. is sponsoring three beneficiaries, Judy, David, and Sam. The company files three registrations for each of the three beneficiaries. Because only one registration was filed per beneficiary all three registrations are valid.
As previously mentioned, the sponsoring company or employer should take care of handling the H-1B visa fees for 2020 (with the exception of third party costs). With that said, it’s still necessary for all parties to be completely aware of the H-1B filing fees charged.
Remember the only fee that the employer is responsible for is the registration fee.
- Registration fee: $10
All other fees are applicable only if the registration is chosen. However, when it comes to fees associated with the petition, there are a number of factors to take into consideration, as outlined below:
- Standard (Basic Filing) Fee: The standard (basic) H-1B filing fee is $460 for the I-129 petition. This H-1B visa fee is also applicable to transfers, refilings, amendments, and renewals. Essentially, this fee is due any time that an I-129 is filed.
- 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 H-1B petitioners or those changing employers. It exists to help the USCIS ferret out those who plan to use this visa fraudulently. This H-1B visa fee is not required for extensions with the same sponsoring employer.
- Public Law 114-113 Fee: This H-1B visa fee is applicable to companies that have upwards of 50 employees with over half on H-1B 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 H-1B 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 $1,440 fee. Again, this is one of the optional visa fees. Also, premium processing has been temporarily suspended for the 2021 season. Another optional expense is if family members apply to be H4 dependents of the applicant by filling out form DS-160.
- Attorney Fees (vary): H-1B attorney fees can vary tremendously. Our flat fees are as follows:
- $850 – initial registration process fee. This is to ensure that all preliminary items are taken care of and that your registration is filed in the correct cap. Any registration that is submitted into the wrong cap will be denied after selection.
- $1,350 – petition filing fee. This is only due if the registration is selected in the lottery and involves gathering necessary supporting documents and filing the petition in a timely fashion.
- $500-$1,500 – RFE fee. If the USCIS sends you a Request for Evidence (RFE), then this fee will cover handling it to give your case the best chance of success.
What About the LCA?
The Labor Condition Application, which is required for all H-1B visas, does not have a requisite fee attached to it, similar to the PERM Labor Certification. Your employer must simply make the four attestations required by the Department of Labor. If you decide to hire an immigration attorney to help you get the LCA, then that would be the only fee for this form.
Does H-1B Visa Cost the Same As In 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.
While the fees this year remain the same as last year, it is not wise to assume that this will always be the case. Be sure to regularly check the USCIS website for news and updates on the H-1B fees.
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 H-1B 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 an H-1B premium processing fee in 15 calendar days
Who Is Responsible for the 2020-2021 H-1B Visa Fees?
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: Employer is responsible
- Attorney Fee: Employer is responsible
- Visa Fee: This fee is involved with attaining your H-1B visa at the U.S. consulate and is the beneficiary’s responsibility.
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 H-1B visa fee of $1,440.
However, this cost has not been included in the mandatory H-1B visa fees for 2020 because it is optional and is usually not recommended for most new H-1B 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, 2020.
However, if you are filing for an extension, renewal, or transfer, then you are not subject to the cap or the employment start date, which means that premium processing may be beneficial to your case. Speak with your immigration attorney to learn if premium processing is something you should pursue in your H-1B situation.
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 its own separate money order or check. Filing the wrong fee, filing it to the wrong place, or filing it in the wrong way can all result in an automatic rejection of your petition and a loss of the fees. Make use of the services of an immigration attorney to make sure that everything is in order and to save you valuable time, money, and effort.
How Much is the H-1B Extension Fees or Transfer Fees?
The H-1B extension fees and H-1B transfer 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, meaning that, if you were to transfer your H-1B status to a different employer, that employer would be responsible for these “other fees”.
Therefore, an H-1B extension fee is only $460 for the I-129 filing. However, an H-1B transfer would incur the “other fees”, which could be anywhere from $1,710 to $6,460 depending on whether your employer is required to pay the higher ACWIA fee and the Public Law fee.
How Will I Know If My Registration Has Been Selected?
Once you submit your registration you will see a status section that will change throughout the remainder of the fiscal year. There are four possible statuses for your registration. They are:
- Selected: If your registration is chosen in the lottery, its status will change to “selected” by March 31st. However, because some selected cases are denied or rejected throughout the course of the season, your registration may change to “selected” later on.
- Not Selected: This means that your registration was not chosen in the lottery. However, you will not see this designation until October 1st, the beginning of the 2021 fiscal year.
- Denied: If there were multiple registrations filed by you for the same beneficiary, all registrations filed for that beneficiary will be changed to “denied”, which disqualifies your case from the lottery.
- Submitted: This simply means that your registration has been received and effectively entered into the cap. However, if your petition was not selected by March 31st, it will remain under “submitted” status until the beginning of the next fiscal year.
Important Dates To Keep in Mind
Mark your calendars! Below are important dates to remember in relation to the H-1B visa 2020-2021 season.
February 24th: Sponsors can create online profiles on the USCIS portal.
March 1st: The online registration window opens and sponsors can submit registrations for their beneficiaries.
March 20th: The online registration window closes and no more registrations will be accepted.
Before March 31st: The USCIS will designate on each registration whether it was “selected” or “denied”. All others will remain as “submitted”.
April 1st: The USCIS begins accepting H-1B visa petitions from those whose registrations were designated as “selected.”
October 1st: This is the earliest that the beneficiary can begin working if the petition is approved. 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. Additionally, at this time, all registrations that were not selected in the lottery will be designated as “not selected” in the online portal.
What Happens in a System Crash?
Because this is a new registration system and there will likely be far more registrations this year than there ever were petitions in years prior,m there is always the possibility that the system will not be able to process the volume of anticipated registrations. If there is a system failure, the normal cap process will be reinstated and sponsors must be ready to file their petitions when the window opens on April 1st.
How Much Does it Cost to Get My Green Card?
A major benefit of the H-1B visa is the fact that it is considered “dual-intent” by the USCIS. This means that, unlike some other nonimmigrant visa classifications, you are able to pursue your green card under H-1B status. If this is your plan, here are the costs you need to keep in mind:
- If your green card requires a PERM Labor Certification, there is no filing fee for the required form ETA-9085. However, there will likely be costs associated with the recruitment and advertisement process.
- I-140 basic filing fee – $700. This form and fee are required whenever you change jobs, employers, or preference levels along the immigration journey.
- I-485 filing fee – $750-$1,140. This fee varies depending on your age and goes by a fee schedule that you can find here.
- You may need to have your biometrics taken, which would require an $85 fee.
- Attorney fee – each immigration law firm charges different fees for their green card services. You can find our flat rate on our fees page.
- I-907 – $1,440. This form is necessary if you would like to use premium processing for your green card petition to reduce the processing time down to 15 calendar days. Keep in mind that this service is not available for EB-1C applicants and EB-2 applicants who are using a National Interest Waiver.
After you have your green card, you will need to renew it every 10 years. While this does not require that you re-qualify for the green card, you will still need to pay the green card renewal filing fee of $540 ($450 plus the $85 biometrics fee).
Master’s Cap Reordering
Another big change that was implemented last year is that the master’s cap will now be conducted after the regular cap. Therefore, all of the cap-subject registrations will be entered into the regular cap of 65,000 first. After that, all unselected registrations with advanced degree designations will be entered into the master’s cap. This is expected to increase the chances of getting selected in the master’s cap significantly.
H-1B Visa Fee FAQs
Do I have to pay H-1B fees with this new registration system?
Sponsors will be responsible for the non-refundable $10 registration fee for entering a beneficiary into the cap. However, you will have to pay all applicable H-1B fees if you are selected for the cap.
Will premium processing be suspended again?
Unfortunately, there is no way of determining whether or not premium processing will be suspended. It was suspended in the past so that petitions without premium processing could be adjudicated and now it seems as though the USCIS is caught up. However, because of the proposed efficiency of the new system, we do not believe that premium processing will be suspended for this filing season.
Is there an LCA fee?
Fortunately, there is no fee required by the Department of Labor for the LCA.
Is there a salary requirement for the H-1B?
As of now, there is no minimum salary that you must have in order to qualify for an H-1B visa. You must only have at least a bachelor’s degree and a job offer from a U.S. employer that requires your degree. However, the current administration intends to implement changes to the H-1B visa requirements that may include a minimum salary.
How Our H-1B Attorneys Can Help
With the H-1B lottery, you only get one shot at filing your registration correctly. If your registration is denied, you will likely miss your chance and have to wait until next year to file. To avoid unnecessary and expensive delays, it’s always best to hire the services of an immigration attorney to ensure that you have the best chances of approval.
With denials and RFEs increasing rapidly through the new Buy American Hire American Executive Order, even the cases that are selected in the lottery will undergo a significant amount of scrutiny. Having an immigration attorney in your corner will ensure that you are prepared for things such as Requests for Evidence.
Also, if there is a system failure and the USICS reinstates the old petitioning process for the lottery, an immigration attorney will help you make sure that your petition is ready to go to be entered into the lottery.
Here at Immi-USA, 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 H-1B 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 the 2020-2021 H-1B fees.
- Our attorneys have extensive experience with complex H-1B cases and have an excellent approval record.
- We offer a flat fee for our professional legal services.
- Contact us to receive your H-1B visa consultation or learn more about the 2020 H-1B visa fees. Certain petitioners may qualify for a free consultation.