Understanding the ins and outs of the most popular U.S. work visa can save you both time and money. The H-1B visa 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 H1B visa for the 2021–2022 season, this post will help you understand all aspects of the H-1B fees.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: USCIS has delayed the Trump administration’s January 8th H-1B Lottery Rule seeking to prioritize cap candidates in higher wage levels until December 31, 2021. The Biden Administration still has to thoroughly review it, and his administration or the federal courts may still eliminate it altogether. We will keep our clients posted with updates as they arise.
How Much Does it Cost to Apply for H-1B Visa?
An H-1B visa application can cost from $1,720 to $6,470 or more depending on attorney fees, optional fees, and employer criteria. However, only lottery selected petitions will pay more than the $10 registration fee. With that said, it’s still necessary for all parties to be completely aware of the H-1B filing fees charged.
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 (less than 25 employees)
$1500 (more than 25 employees)
- Registration fee: $10
- Standard (Basic Filing) Fee: The standard (basic) H-1B filing fee is $460 for the I-129 petition. This H-1B fee is also applicable to H-1b transfer costs, refilings, amendments, and renewals. Essentially, this fee is due any time that an I-129 is filed.
- American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) Training Fee: For employers who have between 1-25 full-time workers, the ACWIA training 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, and primary/secondary educational institutions.
- Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: This $500 fee applies to new H-1B petitioners or those changing employers. It exists to help USCIS ferret out those who plan to use this visa fraudulently. This H-1B fee is not required for extensions with the same sponsoring employer.
- Public Law 114-113 Fee: This H-1B fee applies to companies with 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 and is paid for by either the employer or the employee, depending on the situation. This service is offered by the Department of Homeland Security and guarantees a 15-day processing time frame. To use this feature, you must complete form I-907 along with the $2,500 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 depending on the firm. Since the stages are now tiered, and only certain companies will eventually file the complete petitions. Our legal fees will be as follows:
- Tier One: $550 for the initial registration process, which includes all preliminary case analyses required to file the case such as SOC, duties, documents, educational check, evaluations, if necessary, FEIN, etc.
- Tier Two: $1,900 will be due if the case is selected in the lottery for filing, which includes all form/support letter preparation plus case filing within the timeframe
- Tier Three: $500–$1,500 will be the cost of a Request For Evidence (RFE) response, should one later be issued on the case
Please note that H-1B petitioners have the option to complete the initial registration themselves. Again, if the registration is completed incorrectly, the petition may later be denied. Once the petition has been confirmed as being selected in the lottery, employers may choose to retain our firm for the complete filing. If that route is selected instead, the legal fee for preparing the H-1b filing will be $2300. This fee excludes the cost for a response to any possible RFE that may be issued on the case and any H-4 application that may be required. The fee for an RFE response will remain between $500–$1600, depending upon the complexity of the RFE.
Below is an example to demonstrate how the H-1B fee would apply to a technology firm:
For-profit Technology firm A has 60 employees and has 60% of people using the H-1B visa. If this firm is filing for the H-1B visa with premium processing than they need to pay the base fee, $460, plus the fraud fee,$500, the ACWIA training fee, $1,500, Public Law 114-113 fee, $4,000, and the premium processing fee if they elect for that, $2,500, as well as any applicable attorney fees. Technology firm A would end up paying $8,960 for an H-1b petition aside from any attorney fees they might incur if they hire a lawyer for assistance.
The Public Law fee only needs to be paid by employers with over 50 employees, and they must have more than 50% of their employees on the H-1B visa for the fee to be required. Your immigration lawyer can help you clarify which fees apply to you and your company.
According to USCIS, Amazon Development Center U.S. Inc. had the most initial H-1B petitions approved in 2020 with 367. With that amount, the company spent at least $737,670 on their H-1B petitions, excluding attorney fees, premium processing fee, and the Public Law fee.
What About the LCA?
The Labor Condition Application (LCA), 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. There have been instances of LCA delays when the iCert visa portal doesn’t recognize the employer or company’s FEIN Number. Typically, this happens because there hasn’t been a pre-verification done before the LCA was submitted.
How To Get a USCIS 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 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 Pays H-1B Fees?
Employers must pay for all H-1B fees. The only exceptions, where the beneficiary can pay for fees, are for premium processing fees and visa fees for those going through consular processing. Premium processing is an optional fee.
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 fee of $2,500.
However, this cost has not been included in the mandatory H-1B fees for 2021 because it is optional and is usually not recommended for most new H-1B cases. This is because opting for premium processing does not increase your selection or approval chances, and it does not make you cap-exempt. It also does not change your earliest employment start date: October 1, 2020.
However, if you are filing for an extension, renewal, or transfer, you are not subject to the cap or the employment start date, which means that premium processing may benefit your case. Speak with your immigration attorney to learn if premium processing is something you should pursue in your H-1B situation.
How To Pay H-1B Filing Fee
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 fee requires its own separate money order or check. Paying the wrong H-1b filing 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 an immigration attorney’s services to ensure that everything is in order and save you valuable time, money, and effort.
H1B Transfer Cost and H1B Extension Fees
The H-1B extension fees and H-1B transfer cost include the filing fee for another I-129 petition and the optional premium processing fee. The Public Law and Anti-Fraud fees are only applicable once per beneficiary per employer. The ACWIA fee has to be paid for the first extension through the same employer but does not have to be paid for the 2nd or subsequent extension. For a new employer, the H-1B transfer cost includes the Public Law and anti-fraud fees, but it does not need to pay for another registration fee.
Therefore, an H-1B extension fee is only $460 for the I-129 filing. However, the H-1B transfer cost is more with 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 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 31, 2021. 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. Unless you’re denied or selected, this designation will not appear until October 1, 2021 or later.
- Denied: If you filed multiple registrations for the same beneficiary, all registrations filed for that beneficiary would change 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 31, 2021, it will remain under “submitted” status until the beginning of the next fiscal year.
H-1B Visa Sponsor Database
If you haven’t yet found an H-1B sponsor, then one great source to check is via the H-1B Sponsor Database*, which allows you to filter H-1B visa sponsors by zip code, city and you can browse the types of jobs they have filed in the past. Be aware that their database is based on all LCAs and Labor Certifications filed by U.S. employers beginning in 2000. The Labor Certification is used for employment-based green cards while the LCA is used for H-1B visas. The H-1B Sponsor Database stated the following:
Our LCA data not only includes those filed for new H1-b visa applications, but also those for H1B Visa transfer and renew. If a foreign worker changes his or her work location, a new LCA should also be filed.
During this period, some employers used different names in the visa petitions for various reasons, including business name change, merger or typo. Our engine searches all the used names and returns to you the most recent or most commonly used names. This is the reason that some employer names do not have any of the keywords you have entered.”
*Note: We do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of the information posted on external websites.
Important Dates To Keep in Mind
Mark your calendars. Below are important dates to remember concerning the H-1B visa 2021-2022 season.
February 24, 2021: Sponsors can create online profiles on the USCIS portal.
March 9, 2021, at 12 pm EST: The online registration window opens, and sponsors can submit registrations for their beneficiaries along with the non-refundable $10 registration fee.
March 25, 2021, at 12 pm EST: The online registration window closes, and no more registrations will be accepted.
On or by March 31, 2021: The USCIS will designate on each registration whether it was “selected” or “denied.” All others will remain as “submitted.”
April 1, 2021: The USCIS begins accepting H-1B visa petitions from those whose registrations were designated as “selected.”
October 1, 2021: 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 before the beginning date of employment. The end date given in the petition should also be the same as the expiration of your LCA. Additionally, at this time, all registrations that were not selected in the lottery will be designated as “not selected” in the online portal.
H1-B Visa 2021 Registration Process
Each sponsor will need to register their beneficiary (along with the $10 registration fee) to enter the lottery. After the lottery is conducted, the sponsors whose registrations were selected will be able to file petitions.
Because sponsors are no longer filing petitions to enter the lottery, the fees are not applicable unless the sponsor’s registration is chosen. Instead, the sponsor will just be responsible for the $10 registration fee.
Documents/information required for all H-1B registrations:
- Employer’s name
- Employer’s FEIN (identification number)
- Employer’s address
- Employer’s contact info
- Employer’s lawyer contact info
H-1B beneficiary required information:
- Home country and where beneficiary maintains citizenship
- Passport number
- Educational information like where (if applicable) an advanced degree was earned
To avoid an untimely filing issue, it’s important to submit the petition ahead of the date issued by USCIS. USCIS service centers consider your petition “timely” if it reached them before the expected date. First, it must go to a P.O. box, so submit it well before the last day to ensure they receive it on time.
It’s important to mention again that the Trump Administration’s January 8th H-1B Lottery Rule changing how the lottery works to prioritize cap candidates in higher wage levels has been put on hold until Dec. 31, 2021. This year’s lottery will work the same way it did last year, with the regular cap lottery being conducted first, followed by the master’s cap pool. By running the lottery with the regular cap first and the master’s cap second, individuals holding advanced degrees have a higher chance of being drawn—up to a 16% higher chance than the prior ordering method.
Master’s Cap Order
The master’s cap is 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.
Who Qualifies as Cap Exempt?
When you see the term “cap-exempt,” that means it was a petition that was already counted against the H-1B visa cap. Alternatively, it could also be used to extend an H-1B employee’s time in the United States or alter the terms of their work agreement. Note that some job positions with qualified workers are not required to be subject to the cap quote even if the petitioning H-1B worker has already been counted against it.
Three categories considered cap-exempt:
- Jobs for an institution of higher learning
- Jobs for non-profit organizations that are associated with an institution of higher learning
- Jobs for governmental research centers
Some might be wondering if they qualify under the cap-exempt category if they can just switch jobs after they’ve entered the United States. The answer is no. You have to get your new employer to file another petition for you whenever you change jobs. If the employer is not considered cap-exempt, your petition will be entered into the H-1B visa lottery, and if it’s not chosen, then, unfortunately, you cannot make the transfer.
Submitting Multiple Registrations
While this registration process makes entering the lottery much easier for sponsors, some rules 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 various 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.
Are you currently on an H-1B visa and lost the job you received your status through? If so, it can be challenging to know what to do next. Luckily, as an H-1B holder, you get a 60-day grace period, which starts that day you stop being employed by your sponsor. The grace period is intended for you to find a new sponsor, change to a different visa, or get your affairs to depart the United States and return to your home country.
What is the H-1B Visa Prevailing Wage?
You’ll see the term prevailing wage come up often if you’re exploring the H-1B visa. It’s essentially the average wage for employees who do the same or perform similar roles in a job. Most employment-based visas use the prevailing wage number as a minimum standard for an employer to pay. Who determines the prevailing wage? It’s determined by the Department of Labor under the Occupational Employment Statistics program and is used when you file your LCA.
Steps After Your H-1B Petition is Filed
After your registration has been selected in the lottery, you may be wondering what to do next aside from celebrating. The next step is for your employer to file the complete petition to move your registration to the adjudication stage for processing. If your application is approved and you are already in the U.S. under another visa, then you need to wait until October 1, 2021, to start working. If you are not in the U.S. already, then you need to make an appointment at the U.S. Consulate or embassy in your home country to go through consular processing.
For your consular processing appointment, you’ll have to have already completed and paid fees for your DS-160 nonimmigrant application online, which is $190. Print out the confirmation page of this form along with the payment receipt. Depending on your circumstance, you might have to interview with the consular officer at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. USCIS has the right to interview before you enter the United States. Typically at your H-1B interview, you could be asked about your job, qualifications, employer, and past travel history, among other things. Always answer the interview questions honestly. If you do not know the answer to something, say “I don’t know” instead of lying or guessing.
Filed with the Wrong Service Center?
If you realize that you filed your H-1B petition with the wrong service center, it cannot be processed correctly. You can find a list of USCIS Service centers on the USCIS website. Furthermore, you need to deliver your petition in the correct way for it to be processed. It’s advised to send it through USPS, UPS, FedEx, or another bonded delivery service. Your immigration lawyer can advise you on approved delivery methods as well.
H-1B Request for Evidence (RFE)
If USCIS sends you an RFE, then that means the officer evaluating your case needs more information to make a final decision. It is essential to respond within the time frame given, which is up to three months in most cases. The three common types of responses are as follows:
- Full response: This means you submitted all of the evidence they requested simultaneously as your response.
- Partial response: For a partial response, you submit a portion of the evidence they requested, either because you don’t have it all available or wish not to offer it all at your discretion.
- No response: You basically withdraw your application.
It’s best to present your RFE to an experienced H-1B lawyer to decide the next course of action in your best interest. Types of evidence requested include your degree credentials, information about your employer or the job position, and your relationship to them. Be very clear to demonstrate how the evidence you provide addresses all issues that USCIS has concerning your case.
How Much Does it Cost to Get My Green Card?
A major benefit of the H-1B visa is that it is considered dual-intent by the USCIS. This means that you can pursue your green card under H-1B status unlike some other nonimmigrant visa classifications. 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.
- Biometrics fee: $85. You may need to have your biometrics taken.
- Attorney fee: Varies. Each immigration law firm charges different fees for their green card services. You can see our fees here.
- Premium Processing fee: $2,500. 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 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.
How To Pay the Green Card Renewal Fees
If you decide to file your green card renewal online, after completing the I-90 Form, you can pay the fee with a credit card of your choice at the required website.
If you decide to file by mail, you have the option to pay with a check, money order, or cashier’s check made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” (not abbreviated) or with a credit card using Form G-1450 – Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.
Other Options if Not Eligible for H1-B Visa Lottery in 2021
If you find out based on the requirements that you are not eligible or suitable for an H-1B visa, then you may want to explore other visa options like the L-1 Visa or the H-2B visa. The L-1B visa allows employers based in the U.S. and overseas to transfer personnel between their offices, including the U.S., for up to five years. Alternatively, a J-1 visa may also be a good option for you because you are not tied to an employer and is designed for government-approved programs like students, counselors, doctors, and nannies, among other professions.
H-1B Fees 2021-22 F.A.Q.
Do I have to pay H-1B fees with the registration process?
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?
In the past, premium processing was suspended. However, for this filing season, it is still available.
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?
There is no minimum salary that you must have to qualify for an H-1B visa. You must 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.