Employers spend a lot of money to sponsor high-skilled foreign nationals on H-1B visas – and the costs continue to rise. These costs take on increased significance at a time of heightened government scrutiny over hiring high-skilled foreign nationals, particularly given that on April 1, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting H-1B applications for FY 2020.
“Employers have paid nearly $5 billion in mandated H-1B fees (currently $1,500 per a new or extended H-1B petition) that primarily fund scholarships for U.S. students and training for U.S. workers, a figure that rises to over $7 billion if one includes $1.6 billion in mandated anti-fraud fees and other government fees,” according to a new study from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP).
|Table 1: Employer H-1B Costs|
|Attorney Fees||$1,500 to $4,000|
|Attorney Fees if a Request for Evidence||$2,000 to $4,500|
|Scholarship and Training Fee||$1,500 ($750 for employers with 25 or fewer employees)|
|Premium Processing (generally necessary)||$1,410|
|50/50 Fee on Employers with Majority H-1B/L-1 Workforce||$4,000|
|Visa Application (cost based on reciprocity)||$190|
|TOTAL||$3,400 to $16,560 for initial H-1B petition; $6,300 to $28,620 combined cost of initial H-1B petition and extension*|
|Source: National Foundation for American Policy, Council on Global Immigration, SHRM.
||*Some fees apply only to initial petitions or change of employers, not extensions.|
Attorney costs and government fees range from $3,400 up to $16,560 for an initial H-1B petition and from $6,300 to $28,620 for the cost of both an initial H-1B petition and an extension. Note that employers also must pay an H-1B professional the higher of the prevailing wage or actual wage paid to “all other individuals with similar experience and qualifications for the specific employment in question.”
Since wait times for H-1B processing are typically 10 to 12 months, it is generally imperative for most employers to pay a $1,410 “premium processing” fee, which can guarantee a USCIS decision within 15 days. Companies can spend up to $4,500 in extra legal costs if a USCIS adjudicator issues a Request for Evidence, which government data show happened in 60% of completed cases in the 1st quarter of FY 2019.
This article originally appeared on Forbes