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 of your petition. If you are filing for this visa for the 2020 season, this post will help you understand the H-1B visa fees.
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has posted a final rule (on 01/30/2019) amending regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the master’s degree exemption. The normal order of the lottery (master’s cap then regular cap) will be reversed for the 2020 H-1B season.
- The premium processing suspension ended on January 28, 2019. This means that premium processing will only be available to H-1B petitions filed for the FY 2019 cap. There is no announcement regarding premium processing for the 2020 cap so far except that the suspension will continue for all H-1B petitions except those for the 2019 season.
We’ll explore some frequently asked questions regarding H-1B visa fees such as:
- 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?
- How do the H-1B processing fees compare to previous season? Have they increased?
- What is the H-1B visa fee due to USCIS? What is the lawyer fee?
For those that learn visually, here is a detailed video describing the H-1B processing fees for 2019-2020 season.
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 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.
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 $1,410 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 filling out form DS-160.
- Attorney Fees (vary): H-1B attorney fees can vary tremendously. We offer a flat fee for our services.
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. 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.
Additionally, the premium processing fee has increased significantly since the previous years. In October, 2018, the premium processing fee increased from $1,225 to $1,410. Be sure to include the correct payment or your premium processing request will be denied.
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 2019-2020 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: 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 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 $1,410.
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, 2019.
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.
If you, the beneficiary, decide to pay the H-1B premium processing fee, you must have a detailed explanation for why this decision was made. This is to prevent employers from coercing prospective employees into paying the premium processing fee for the benefit of the employer.
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.
Important Dates To Keep in Mind
Mark your calendars! Below are important dates to remember in relation to the H-1B visa 2019-2020 season.
April 1st: USCIS begins accepting H-1B visa petitions.
April 8th: We predict that USCIS will stop accepting H-1B 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 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 – $1,410. 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).
Proposed Changes to the H-1B Visa Fees Under Trump
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.
One such change involves the annual lottery and will likely go into effect next year. As of now, the USCIS is in the process of testing an online registration system that will effectively replace the petitions in the lottery. Rather than handle petitions for the lottery, employers will register their alien beneficiaries with the USCIS a few weeks before April 1st, the start of the lottery window. The lottery will be conducted with these registrations rather than petitions, so employers will not need to file the I-29 packet unless their beneficiary’s registration is selected. If that happens, then employers need to file their petitions within the filing window starting on April 1st.
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.
The USCIS has announced that it is still in the testing phase of this pre-registration system and therefore it will be suspended for the 2020 H-1B season. However, we can expect it to be implemented next year.
Another big change is that the master’s cap will now be conducted after the regular cap. Therefore, all of the cap-subject petitions will be entered into the regular cap of 65,000 first. After that, all unselected petitions 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.
The master’s cap order reversal will go into effect this H-1B 2020 filing season.
Lastly, the president has also released a statement indicating that he plans to create a potential pathway for H-1B holders to obtain citizenship. While there is currently no direct path to citizenship from any nonimmigrant visa, this change, if implemented, would make the H-1B much more appealing to those looking to become U.S. citizens.
H-1B Visa Fee FAQs
Do I have to pay H-1B fees with this new registration system?
You will not need to pay fees in order to enter the lottery, but 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. If another back =log builds up, we might be able to anticipate another suspension of this service.
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.
Can the beneficiary pay the premium processing fee?
Yes. However, the employer and the beneficiary must make it clear that the beneficiary is paying this fee because it directly benefits him or her rather than the employer. Work with your immigration attorney to see about putting together the appropriate statement.
How Our H-1B Attorneys Can Help
With the H-1B lottery, you only get one shot at filing your petition and fees correctly. If your petition is sent back, 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.
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 2019-2020 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.