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 🙂