How Much Does It Cost To Get Your E3 or H1B Visa?

Whether people ask or not, it is probably the question at the back of everyone’s mind, being how much money am I going to have to dole out for the right to work in the so-called “land of opportunity” of the US.

So what is the answer……well as with most questions about money with a legal twist, the answer is it depends and can be excessive but I will try and remove all the BS and summarize it all

For the H1B candidate (as it stands today)

The costs are generally borne by the sponsor employer but often the employer asks the prospective candidate to share these costs or bare it entirely which can be a big initial hit to your bank balance. Particularly when you consider the initial filing fee is non refundable if your petition fails as is the premium processing costs and of course lawyer fees. Then your consular application costs are of course non refunable if you fail as well.

Quite simple it is a rort with the only real beneficiaries being the lawyers as they are only the part of this whole chain who benefit regardless of the outcome with no ongoing costs or burdens in any way. So it is no small wonder why their lobby groups have been so strong in Washington DC for a long time. Immigration to them is big business with comparitively little work as most cases are straightforward, little time expended work that an actual qualified lawyer probably doesn’t do much with at all and his handled by hid/her assistants and para-legal associates.

To Apply for the Visa; (all USD)
1. USCIS Filing Fee with USCIS $390 – Form I-129 (Spouse optional H4 Fee is $300)
2. Fraud Detection Fee with USCIS $500

3. LCA Filing Fee with Department of Labor FREE – Form ETA 9035/9035e (a small win here…although am sure will change one day)
Also have to ensure prevailing wages are met as well in this part so you are paid the same or more as a US worker in same position)

4. Premium Filing Fee $1,000 (optional – Form I-901) – excessive designed to help process where your legal representative has access to case officer phone number and decisions are made fast in 15 days and can also aid spouse partner H4 visa process

5. ACWIA Fee $750 or $1,500 – if your petition is successful this goes to a training fund for US workers and is $1,500 unless you have less than 25 full time employees. Some government, education and non-profit institutions are exempt from this fee

6. Consular Application Fee $131 (x2 for spouse)
7. Visa Issuance Fee $100 (x2 for spouse) (but varies by country so check http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/reciprocity/index.htm

TOTAL (if you do it the most effective way with premium processing) $3,621 +$531 for spouse

Now in all of these costs I did not include any attorney costs. So if you are a couple the bill is already over $4,000 before legal fees hit. Now truth be told you don’t need a lawyer but with H1B cases, good companies always use lawyers and if you are a foreign citizen who has to do this, unless you know the US System back to front, a lawyer is probably a good idea.
Costs here probably vary from $1,000 to $3,000 for a standard case but have heard of a lot more.

Like I said if you have good employer they will probably pay all costs including legal costs except maybe for the consular application and issuance fees. However do realize what you are getting yourself into should you choose to go down this road as of course you will have travel, accomodation, lease deposit and other expenses as well. Remember your spouse can’t work either on the H4 visa.

The Immigrant Life is Tough!!

For the E3 candidate (as it stands today)

Life is a little easier as the USCIS and AWCIA fees are eliminated and premium filing is not an option nor is it necessary when you make initial applications because of the difference in process. So you might have read in previous posts how hard things are with E3, well like I also said Aussies do have it easier than most!!

1. LCA Filing Fee with Department of Labor FREE (a small win here…although am sure will change one day)

2. Consular Application Fee $131 (x2 for spouse)
3. Visa Issuance Fee $100 (x2 for spouse) (but varies by country so check http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/reciprocity/index.htm

4. Spouse Optional Filing Fee To Work i765 $340

TOTAL $231 +$231 for spouse +$340 spouse work

Now while many employers still use lawyers for the E3 visa process, I always wonder why, as it is designed to be an extra simple process compared to H1B, unless there is something really unusual in your case (i.e. criminal conviction or something).

There are advantages to the H1B with the easier relative path to green card but in this capacity (costs), E3 is clearly superior!!

Happy Saving 🙂

CJ

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44 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost To Get Your E3 or H1B Visa?

  1. In case an H1B application is rejeced, does USCIS refund any fees back. Please advice which are the fees that are refunded to employer in case H1B petetion is rejected.

  2. Hi Singh,
    If the H1B visa is rejected, the application fee is NOT refunded as this is a processing fee. The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) component of $1,500 (or if your employer employs less than 25 employees $750) may be refunded and returned but the timings on all of this and where it goes are often murky.
    CJ

  3. Another question,
    If I were to bear all the cost of my visa application, would I be able to move companies in an instance a better job oppurtunity opens up?

  4. Hi CJ,
    Thanks so much. In all my research you have been the most resourceful person and Web site I stumbled upon.

    Rad

  5. Hi CJ,

    Thank you for up to date informations.

    My Question is if I will file H1B Visa through a lawyer then do I need to have a job offer? or a lawyer can file H1B visa without any employer letter?

    Please reply soon

  6. Hi JD,
    Any H1B visa needs an employer sponsor. A lawyer is just a mode for doing the application itself but is certainly not mandatory.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  7. So I take it, that new zealanders can’t use the e-3 Visa meaning 3500.00 bucks are going to sting my employer if they still want uphold the job offer! I’m fucked. My best hope now will be to negotiate a new contract with 4000 less USD involved. Fuck that’s insane! the Land of opportunity can kiss my white ass. And it looms to me that the nz/USA embassy haven’t got all their facts straight either. Jeez what an outdated system. Such A Shame.

  8. heello sir,
    I want to apply H1B visa. need an agent / expert to cooperate me. please contact :kmali57@yahoo.com who have an agent / local agent in Bangladesh……… T. U,,,,

  9. Hi Panday,
    There is no 1 minimum pay as it depends on the job and the area where that job is located as to what the minimum pay is. It is broadly defined as the same average amount a US worker would be paid doing the same job in the same location.
    CJ

  10. Hi David,
    Yes unfortunately for New Zealanders, the E3 visa is only for Australian nationals. It is really just the H1B visa.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  11. Hi, I thought it was illegal for the prospective employee to pay the costs of the application, or at least the Bureau of Labor pieces… Am I missing something? I mean part of the reason for that is to prevent prospective employees from having those fees taken out of their salary by their employer.

    Also – are H1B fees the same for all employers? i.e. do non-profits and universities have to pay them is my chief question.

    thoughts and thanks for the info here.

  12. Hi AT,
    Yes technically the H1B fees should be paid by the employer including the relevant legal fees. It doesn’t necessarily always happen in practice but the reputable companies will always pay these fees. The H1B fees are the same for all employers except for the $750/$1500 ACWIA fee dependent on the employer size.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  13. Thanks, that’s good info – and what a great site – simple and straight forward answers to people’s questions – gawd only knows the government could use some of your clarity. Thanks again.

  14. You need to update this page to reflect the increased Visa application costs, in particular, E-3 visa fee is now US$390

  15. Hello,
    Im an Indian national working in the marketing department of a company in Qatar now.I would like to be in US for employment, it would be highly appreciated if you can furnish me the procedure of obtaining the appropriate visa… thanks in advance… Ren

  16. Thank you for all your great information I am an Australian Citizen and have just been offered a position in the US in a specialized field. I was wondering about the difference between the E3 and the H1-B
    The E3 does seem very simple and it is great to get an idea of fees,
    I worked in the US in the 1985 and had an H1-B and my employer paid a lot for a Lawyer.
    Thank you for confirming my thoughts on the E3 I do not have a degree however I do have over 25 years experience in this field with back up information letters and appropriate documentation. So hoping it will be easy.
    cheers M

  17. Hi CJ,

    Your service has been very helpful and the information conveyed is well appreciated. Concise yet crisp. More grace to your efforts.

    Cheers,
    IEJ

  18. “Quite simple it is a rort with the only real beneficiaries being the lawyers as they are only the part of this whole chain who benefit regardless of the outcome with no ongoing costs or burdens in any way.”

    What is the word “rort” do you mean rout or what do you mean there?

  19. HI, I am in America on a 6 month tourist visa. I currently have 1 month left and have been offered a job with a company. Am I able to do the interview here and how long would it take to be approved so I wouldn’t have to leave.
    Thanks

  20. Hi,

    Can a position be e3 sponsored if the compensation is commission not salary. For example Alfac have offered me an issuance sales position and they pay commission only not a salary.

  21. Dear Sir,
    I am working in provate Comapnay in Bangalore.
    One of US Employer, he is one of the executive to our Company,
    He willing to Hire me To procure Hybrid Micro circuit s and in RFQ field, Please confirm me the Procedure and Check List to get the H1B Viza? where I have go in Bangalore? what kind of offer letter i have to get from Employer?
    Thanks and regards:
    Shetty

  22. Hi,

    I have a BA degree and work on my OPT right now, next first of June will expire, so I need to have a sponsor to offer me H1B visa or EB3 visa, so when should I apply to avoid the expire date and I can keep going to stay in USA

    Please advise.

  23. Great Information and Web.
    Could you please explain what’s the difference among an H1B and a E3, Is E3 Visa something I can file myself without an Sponsor? and find a Job afterwards? Or any other Visa that one can file my oneself? Any Advice,

    Many Thanks,
    Oscar.

  24. Can you give me the link for latest visa fee for E-3 Visa.
    I checked I-129 is $325 and Fraud Detection Fee is $500 for H1-B.

  25. Lydia, there is no visa fees for the E-3 visa but if you are transferring to the E-3 visa from another non-immigrant visa (not the tourist visa waiver program) within the US, then you have to pay the $325 I-129 application fee to the USCIS.
    Cj

  26. Thank you so much for this website it has really helped me. I am an Australian with a degree and a company has asked for me to work for them, I am currently on a B1 (5 yrs) and I understand that I’ll have to go to an E3 to work however I still would feel more comfortable if there was a lawyer helping me through this. Can you suggest anyone?

  27. Hi CJ,
    I have already got my E3 visa…. my question,
    1. What are the steps or forms should I fillup for my wife and kids..visa??
    2. If my wife is eligible to work fulltime in US then is there any specific form should I need to fillup..???
    3. what will be total visa cost for spouse and two kids ..??
    4. Do my company should pay for this applications or I have pay on my own…??
    5. And Lastly, when my E3 visa will expire and want to comeback to Australia, then do the employer is liable to pay my (and my family) return air ticket or I have to bear this total cost..?? Thank you.

  28. Hi Sen,
    1. They all need to be on E-3D visas and have to file the DS-160 form in advance of US consulate interview
    2. Your wife would need to file Form I-765 but only after she has entered the US and that can take up to 3 months to approve
    3. Those costs are being updated. The I-765 fee once you enter the country is $465 and the VIsa application fees at the US consulate are currently $270 ea.
    4. Your company could pay for them and technically should but often it is the foreign immigrant that pays it
    5. Your employer is only liable to pay the cost for you to return home if they lay you off from work. I don’t think that extends to your family costs.
    Cj

  29. Hi Jon,
    I have gone through lawyers with processes b/c the companies I have worked for have mandated them for the process but also done it on my own. I can’t recommend any specifically b/c when a lawyer has been used in my case, I wasn’t paying the bills and I know they were very expensive. So best to ask others or research online if you really want a lawyer.
    Cj

  30. Hi Cj,
    I hail from India. One org which is a consultancy basically ,is asking for a DD in favor of USCIS for Fraud Detection Fee of $500 for starting to process my H1B and get me interviews. He mentioned about a digital signature which I will get once verification is done in a week or so. Do we get any digital signature after “Fraud Detection” process. Whats its validity .?

  31. Soura the Fraud Detection Fee is legitimate as part of the H-1B process, however I would never transfer my own money to an unknown employer for that. Those fees are supposed to be paid by the US employer sponsor and there are lots of cases of organizations defrauding foreigners to pay money and never getting anything in return. As far as the USCIS is concerned they may refer to something as a digital signature internally but foreigners don’t get anything from this part of the process it is just a check.
    Cj

  32. Hi CJ

    Does contract work cover under E3? I am an HR professional ,and getting offers under contract. Is there any minimum contract required for E3?madi

  33. Can you switch from being paid a salary to commission when you receive the E3 visa?
    How long do you need to be on the prevailing wage?

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