How Much Does an H1B Visa Cost In 2018?

Both H1B visa beneficiaries (foreign workers) and sponsors often have questions about the real cost of sponsoring an H1B visa worker’s petition.  This is valuable information for both parties, since it does show the level of investment required to bring a non-immigrant worker to the US with a valid work permission.

Some of the costs will vary depending on the size of the company and number of H1B visa workers on the payroll, but we have put together an estimate for compiling and submitting a successful H1B petition.

The H1B Visa Petition Filing Fee

The filing fee for H1B visa petitions has several components, which are different for three types of sponsors: a.) small employers, b.) large employers and c.) large employers with over 50% non-immigrant visa workers on the payroll.

Base Filing Fee: $460 (all employer/sponsors)

AICWA Fee: $750 (small employers with up to 25 full time employees)

$1500 (large employers with over 25 full time employees)

Fraud Prevention Fee: $500

Large H1B Employer Fee: $4000 (The filing fee was increased by $4000 in 2017 for employers that have 50 or more employees, and if over 50% of active employees are already working under an H1B or L-1 visa.)

Total Filing Fees:

a.) $1,710 (small employer)

b.) $2,460 (large employer with more than 25 FTEs)

c.) $6,460 (large H1B employer)

(Note: the sponsor/employer handles the preparation and submission of the actual petition,

but the employee must submit all of the required documents to the sponsor.)

Other Optional Fees

There are two other fees not required by the USCIS, but that are optional to shorten the review period of the petition, or to have legal assistance with the entire process.

Premium Processing: $1,225 (available for all petitions, granting 15-day review)

Immigration Attorney: $1,000-$3,000

Total Optional Fees: $2,225-$4,225

Based on these numbers, the least amount to sponsor an H1B visa is $1710, but can be as high as $10,000 per worker for some employers.  This is part of the cost of doing business for the US sponsor who needs the skills and experience offered by the foreign worker

Who Pays the H1B Visa Fees?

There is often confusion about whether the US company sponsor or the foreign worker must pay the H1B visa fees.  In general, the sponsor must pay all of the filing fees, and cannot ask the worker to pay the fees.  This is a legal requirement under USCIS regulations, and the H1B worker cannot have their wages reduced or otherwise be asked to reimburse the employer for these business expenses.

  • The exception to this is premium processing which can be paid by the employee (but only if the employer can show that the petition was expedited because of the employee’s personal circumstances, rather than the employer’s reasons.)
  • The employer usually will pay for an attorney if they want one, but it is not prohibited to have the employee pay for all or part of attorney’s fees.
  • The H1B employee will need to pay the visa stamping fee at the US consulate in their home country once the petition is approved, and this cost varies depending on the country.
  • The employer/sponsor may also pay for travel expenses to the US for the employee to begin work, but those expenses can be recouped from the employee.  The sponsor must pay for a return ticket if they terminate the employee at any time during the H1B visa’s validity.

What if the H1B Visa Petition is Denied?

In the unhappy event that an H1B visa petition is denied by the USCIS, the filing fees will be refunded to the sponsor.  However, attorney’s fees and premium processing are not refunded as they are optional expenses.  At that point, both the sponsor and foreign worker will have to try again the following visa season.

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  • February 20th, 2018
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