H-1B Visa Season Begins April 1, 2013 – All the News, Fees & Application Tips

April 1, 2013 is tomorrow and all you potential H1B foreign applicants should be readying you applications because of how the signs of the H1B Visa season FY2013 finishing in June 2012 bodes ominous signs for this year.

The USCIS has already posted a warning that it expects this year to be oversubscribed and many H-1B visa applicants who in 2009-2012 would have been guaranteed an H-1B with a proper application this year might face the dreaded H1B visa lottery for both the Advanced Degree Exemption quota of 20,000 and the main H1B visa quota of 65,000. The US unemployment rate has dropped to 7.6%  and it is far lower for skilled and high-tech professions not to mention the fact the US economy although slowly has been growing for almost 3 years. So this possibility that this season will be more like 2007 & 2008 is a reality and means that you should get in your H-1B petition ASAP.

On April 1, 2013 will be the first day the United States Custom & Immigration Service (USCIS )will accept new H1B visa petitions for the FY2014 H1B Visa season. Prior to that you can and should file your ETA-9035(e) for to the Department of Labor to get the your Labor Certification Approval (LCA) because that needs to be sent with the application. And regardless of the fact that we have been inaccurate for the last 3 years as to how quickly the H1B visa quota has been filled, an early and proper application is always the best recipe for success and less heartache. (official USCIS H1B site)

Ensure you also read H1B visa Season Tips and have all your H1B supporting documents ready to file immediately to file via your employer or attorney on April 1, 2012 for the FY2013 season.

This year is also a monumental one as both President Obama and the US Congress are pushing forward with major Immigration reform. Now regardless if or what actually may pass, what it does mean is that Immigration will be a hot talking point for the media and general public. That means the H-1B visa will be under attack from both sides of politics who want to limit Immigration levels.  Although most of the current momentum is for more positive action for immigrants related to the H-1B visa, skilled immigration at large, Start-up visas and permanent residency prospects, there also has been legislation submitted to the US congress to limit the scope of the H1B visa.

H1B Visa Fees 2013

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. 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.

6. 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

ADDITIONAL FEES FOR VISA STAMPING IN FOREIGN COUNTRY
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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 are in a 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.

All the Best,
CJ

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