H1B visas could become more expensive if US President Joe Biden’s Budget Reconciliation Bill is passed in its current form. It’s understood that the Bill features a provision to charge an extra $500 per H1B visa petition. Currently a basic application for an H1B visa, which is widely used by American tech firms, costs $460.
Meanwhile, the Bill is also proposing additional fees for a number of US immigration-related petitions, including an additional $800 for employer sponsored permanent residency and an extra $250 for an F1 or M1 student visa – to be paid by an educational institute.
A supplementary charge of $500 is also being proposed for employment authorization forms for the spouses of certain non-immigrants, students seeking optional practical training and those applying for an adjustment of status.
Fees could rise above $30,000
Based on a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of government fees, companies could end up spending up to $31,800 on costs for filing an initial H1B visa petition for three years and extending it by a further three years.
The potential increase in fees is likely to hit smaller IT firms hardest. One business owner said: “It can cost as much as $30,000 in attorney fees, filing fees and responding to requests for evidence each time you file an H1B or an extension.”
“With over a million jobs vacant in the computer technology industry alone, it is unconscionable that instead of making it easier, Congress is making it more difficult,” the business owner added.
Cheap labor myth shattered
Meanwhile, employers who already have a large number of H1B and L1 visa holders on their books, there is an additional $4,000 fee, plus a $2,500 premium processing fee, which most companies tend to opt for.
News of a potential increase in H1B visa filing fees under the new Bill have been described as a huge blow for smaller firms, while ‘destroying’ the myth that US companies are choosing ‘cheap’ foreign labor over American workers.
Fees for a number of US visas have increased in recent years, especially in the 18 months since the coronavirus pandemic, as United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) tries to recoup money lost amid a US travel ban imposed by former US President Donald Trump, and largely upheld by the Biden administration.
However, US travel restrictions are set to ease for a number of countries whose citizens are double vaccinated from November 8.
News of a potential increase in H1B visa fees under the new Bill comes shortly after it was announced that research analysts would be added to the H1B visa speciality occupation list.
The news was described as a ‘major victory’ for US companies that rely on the H1B visa system. Under previous US immigration rules, the USCIS did not recognise market research analysts as a ‘speciality occupation’.
Leslie K. Della, a senior business immigration attorney at the American Immigration Council, said: “This is an important victory that will benefit hundreds of American businesses and the market research analysts they seek to employ.”
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