Tag Archives: do I need a lawyer

H1B Visa FY2011 Quota Predictions & Costs

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.

Good Luck,


Do I Need A Lawyer For My E3 Visa Process?

To continue my series as to whether you need a lawyer for your US visa process I will now focus on the E3 Visa.

The Process

I will let you be the judge firstly from how I will briefly describe the process, and then I will give you my own opinion.

In short once a company has agreed to sponsor you with a job offer, you have to file freely either electronically or by mail a form to the Department of Labor. This form is pretty simple to fill out and really just outlines the company, your role, your salary, etc. It is designed so that the Department of Labor determines that the company is legitimate, the job offer is legitimate and is within the visa parameters and also that you will be paid at minimum in accordance with the regulations. (this salry part needs to be the prevailing wage which is basically just at the least the same amount a US worker would get for doing the same job in the same city)

Once you have received this approved form, you can essentially take that, along with the ocmpany offer letter and your regular application forms to the US embassy or consulate for your interview. If there is a spouse or dependents involved they can fill out the relevant application forms as well to take to the consulate at this time.

Now in this process I described above do you think, an attorney was necessary?

You can probably gather from the tone of my language that I think an attorney is a waste of time and money.

The US Government even admit as much when they stated when this visa was conceived in 2005, that is was designed to be simple for both the employer and the applicant and without all the extra fees involved.

Look many companies will hire an attorney anyway as that is their policy. However if it is you who is dictating the process and whom has to make the decision then I would say unless you are completely incapable of anything like filling out a form and understanding basic language (which would make me wonder how you got your job offer in the first place) then say NO to lawyers.

Lawyers are expensive, even moreso in the US, and for something they could do in less than half a day’s work (similar work for you) will set you back at minimum $2,000 USD but probably more. I don’t know about you but I would rather keep that myself!

I will admit I did use a lawyer 2 years before I first got my E3 visa so I could understand the process and legal requirements around the US visa system better. However if there were resources on the Internet then I certainly wouldn’t have. Hey in your case you have this blog here for FREE to understand all that 🙂

In my case a lawyer was used by my company but that was completely their decision as I told them it wasn’t necessary and I know the lawyers (although very professional and friendly) found me slightly odd as they wanted to fill out my applications for me that I would take to the consulate. I said I would do that myself since it is easy to know my own name, address, past history, etc.

It was obvious that there was little legal stuff for them to do so they wanted to handle anything they could 🙂

Also to note the spousal and dependent applications, know as the E3D visa is very simple as it just depends on you having a valid E3 application

So again NO to lawyers for E3 if you are the one who are going to have to pay the lawyer’s bill!

The Counter Opinion

Many people will tell you that you do need an attorney for this process because of issues they have had mainly centered around 2 issues;

1. The nature of their job and their salary
2. The so called “no dual intent” part of the visa

With the first issue, yes there are many jobs that are not allowed but essentially I think many more are given the job you apply for must have a minimum criteria of requiring a bachelors degree. To note, this does not necessarily mean you need a bachelors degree as if you qualify as having enough practical work experience (and possibly other certifications) in this certain field that you can prove then you will be fine.

So this is a just a matter about having common sense and not putting down things like receptionist, janitorial, burger flipper in your application as job title and description. However the categories are so broad with business, finance, legal, marketing, medical, engineering, IT, Architecture, etc. that you could easily fit your job description under any one of those categories I am sure.

The salary part is just ensuring you are paid a decent wage (equivalent to what a US worker would get in the same situation in the same city). I am not sure why you would work for much less that what you deserve anyway but this again is just common sense for both you and the company to ensure they are not exploiting cheap foreign labor.

The second issue relates to the “no dual intent” aspect of the E3 visa which basically means that you should have ties to home and intend to return whenever your entire visa period is over. Now again you have to remember it is in law that this visa can be renewed/extended indefinitely and there is no limit to the amount of times you can apply for it. So already even though your status in the US will never be permanent, there is already a contradiction here unlike the H1B visa which states can only be renewed once for another 3 year period.

The second part to this is that additionally it states, the application or pending petition to any immigrant (thus permanent status) does not automatically disqualify you from having your visa extended, renewed or getting another one.

So say for example you are on a E3 visa and your company does sponsor you for a Green Card/Permanent Residency but that application is still pending and you need to re-apply or renew your current E3 Visa, you wont be automatically denied based on permanent residency application. Again this also seems to contradict the “no dual intent” condition.

I am aware of people who have done through the example above and are now on their Green Card.

So to sum up this second issue, if you have family in the US and no family in Australia and are applying for an E3 visa, don’t sell up your entire life in Australia (house, car, etc.), trasnfer all your money to the US and then tell your interview officer at the consulate about all this as what are they meant to think.

Of course never lie to your Interview officer as they will be aware of any family you have in the US from their checks but showing you have bank accounts with money here as well as explaining you have people ties and roots in the community should not be that hard.

There is nothing a lawyer can do for you about all this except explain this same thing to you and emphasize common sense to you in the interview as he/she can’t be there with you. Only difference being that a lawyer will charge you thousands of dollars for the pleasure!

I hope this helps answer your questions about the E3 Visa and Lawyers….