You may remember last year we did an H1B Visa FY2010 quota prediction at around the same time of the year. Given how popular that post was through 2009, especially with the long H1B visa season we have decided again to do it this year.
Now you may remember some of the predictions we made last year turned out not to come true mainly due to the economic conditions of the time. However anyone following the advice of that post and getting their application in on time on April 1, which is the first day the USCIS will accept new H1B visa petitions, meant earlier approval for your H1b visa application which is always a good thing.
This year we thought we would do even more for you and try to be helpful by including the H1B visa costs in this post as well as some of the tips and savings to look out for in your US job search and subsequent H1B visa application
However one thing we do know is that following the end of the FY2010 H1B visa season there was a real rush of H1B visa applications as the US economy stabilized during the latter half of 2009. In fact there was so many H1B visa applications reight towards the end the USCIS had to put out an edict for a lottery type system they would use for rejecting H1B visa petitions so as not go beyond the 65,000 quota mandate.
Therefore the expectation for FY2011 H1B visa season beginning on April 1, 2010 is that is should be a lot more competitive and we may even go back to circumstances of previous year. This includes closing acceptance of new H1B visa applications soon after the April 1 commencement and other procedures like the H1B visa lottery for both the Advanced Degree Exemption quota of 20,000 and the main H1B visa quota of 65,000.
We did some H1B visa Season Tips for you already which should really give you the best chance of getting your application approved. Now while we do expect it to be more competitive in 2010, we don’t expect it to be like the crazy years of 2006-8 but we still implore everyone to find their H1B employer sponsors now, get your approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor and have all your H1B supporting documents ready to file immediately to file via your employer or attorney on April 1, 2010, This is the best thing to avoid disappointment.
It is our expectation that by the end of May 2010 at the latest all H1B visas will be allotted for this current season.
Also do not necessarily think, like the optimistic view in 2007, that the H1B visa quota will increase in coming years. There is already legislation submitted to the US congress to limit the scope of the H1B visa and even the quota further.
H1B Visa Costs
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 the Visa Reciprocity Section of the USCIS
(NB: If able to transfer to H1B visa status within US without needing to leave the country if you current non-immigrant visa status expires after October 1, then you can file form I-539 with the USCIS along with I-129. If filing these forms together there is no additional fee)
Total If Visa Issued Outside US: $1,871 to $2,621 (plus $1,000 Premium Filing Fee if Opted)
Total If Visa Status Change within US (if eligible): $1,640 to $2,390 (plus $1,000 Premium Filing Fee if Opted)
NB: If you change your status to H1B within the US and then later travel outside the US for whatever reason, then to re-enter the US you will need to get an H1B visa stamp in your passport anyway so have to attend as US Consulate or Embassy interview in a foreign country.
It is important to realize that none of the above costs include any legal costs at all so if you are deciding whether you need a layer for your H1B visa process if you are paying for one yourself, that you realize what the actual H1B visa application costs are as listed above and thus what your lawyer is charging you for their time. You should note it is NOT mandatory at all to have an attorney
Technically all the H1B visa costs including legal costs are meant to be paid by your employer and most good employers will do all this for you but a few try to pass this cost in various devious ways back to the employee.
If you are paying for a lawyer itself it can be good to get a fixed legal quote for the entire H1B visa process and to shop around but also know that you often get what you pay for and additional work will no doubt cost extra.
Finally is you are trying to decide whether any of the many H1B visa help sites like H1Base or H1visajobs are worth the fees they charge to help in your search then definitely read our reviews and others before making up your mind.