For the last 2 years we did Quota Predictions for H1B Visa FY2011 & H1B Visa FY2010 seasons. Given how popular that post was through 2009, especially with the long H1B visa season we have decided again to do it this year.
On April 1, 2011 it will be the first day the USCIS will accept new H1B visa petitions for the FY2012 H1B Visa season and regardless of the fact that we have been inaccurate for the last 2 years as to how quickly the H1B visa quota has been filled, an early and proper application is always the best recipe for success. (official USCIS H1B site)
As with last year we are also documenting the H1B visa costs so you can have all the information in one post. Now while it is unlikely the H1B visa lottery for both the Advanced Degree Exemption quota of 20,000 and the main H1B visa quota of 65,000 will be necessary, it has been seen that there has been a rush to towards the end of the FY2011 H1B season and with the unemployment rate down to 9%, there is a possibility that this season will be more like 2007 & 2008.
It also worth noting that given we are no longer in an election year and with President Obama intending to make further moves on Immigration that there is already legislation submitted to the US congress to limit the scope of the H1B visa and even the quota further so again the sooner the better!
H1B Visa Costs
To Apply for the Visa; (all USD)
1. USCIS Filing Fee with USCIS $325 – 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 $1,225 (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. Public Law 111-230 $2,000 – (dependent) to be submitted by a petitioner which employs 50 or more employees in the United States where more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States are in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status.
7. Consular Application Fee $131 (x2 for spouse)
8. 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: $1,706 to $3,456 (plus $1,225 Premium Filing Fee if Opted)
Total If Visa Status Change within US (if eligible): $1,476 to $3,226 (plus $1,225 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.