New Increase In H-1B Visa Fees Further Shatters ‘Cheap Labor’ Myth

Reality vs the rhetoric:

The mistaken premise of nearly all restrictions on high-skilled immigration is that foreign-born scientists and engineers offer no value to America or U.S. companies except for a willingness to work for less money, note analysts. That is the premise even though the key people behind the vaccines that saved the lives of many Americans from Covid-19 are former international students, H-1B visa holders and employment-based immigrants. Even some members of Congress sympathetic to refugees and individuals without legal status imply that it is a gift to business to allow companies to hire high-skilled foreign nationals and sponsor them for permanent residence.

In reality, coming to America as an international student and gaining H-1B status, or being hired directly on an H-1B visa, is just another way to pursue the American Dream. For many, it is a necessary step under the U.S. immigration system for an opportunity to stay permanently and start a career and family in America. A new House bill will make it more expensive for employers to file petitions for those pursuing those dreams.

Critics of H-1B visa holders do not mention the high fees required to file an H-1B petition or the large number of job openings in computer occupations. If the House reconciliation bill becomes law, filing an H-1B petition will become more expensive, further shattering what businesses and attorneys call the myth of H-1B visa holders as “cheap labor.”

The mistaken premise of nearly all restrictions on high-skilled immigration is that foreign-born scientists and engineers offer no value to America or U.S. companies except for a willingness to work for less money, note analysts. That is the premise even though the key people behind the vaccines that saved the lives of many Americans from Covid-19 are former international students, H-1B visa holders and employment-based immigrants. Even some members of Congress sympathetic to refugees and individuals without legal status imply that it is a gift to business to allow companies to hire high-skilled foreign nationals and sponsor them for permanent residence.

In reality, coming to America as an international student and gaining H-1B status, or being hired directly on an H-1B visa, is just another way to pursue the American Dream. For many, it is a necessary step under the U.S. immigration system for an opportunity to stay permanently and start a career and family in America. A new House bill will make it more expensive for employers to file petitions for those pursuing those dreams.

The most recent version of the House reconciliation bill, which is expected to be voted on soon, adds a supplemental fee of $500 to existing fees for H-1B petitions. This is one of several fee increases added to the bill after immigration measures passed the House Judiciary Committee in September 2021.

As detailed in a section-by-section summary released with the House bill’s text:

“Section 60004 provides that the fees collected under Subtitle A shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury and may not be waived. This section also establishes additional supplemental fees as follows

• $100 for certain family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions (Form I-130) 

• $800 for each employment-based immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) 

• $15,000 for each employment-based fifth preference petition (Form I-526) 

• $19 for each Form I-94/I-94W issued to nonimmigrants who enter the United States 

• $250 for each F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant student and J-1 exchange visitor to be paid by the approved educational institution or designated exchange visitor program 

• $500 for each application to replace an LPR card that has expired or is expiring 

• $500 for each petition for E, H-1B, L, O, or P status (Form I-129) 

• $500 for each application to change or extend nonimmigrant status (Form I-539) 

• $500 for applications for employment authorization (Form I-765) filed by spouses of certain nonimmigrants, students seeking optional practical training, and applicants for adjustment of status 

• $75 for each approved nonimmigrant visa.”

With the fee increase, a company may spend as much as $31,800 for the cost of filing an initial H-1B petition (for three years) and an extension for an additional three years, based on a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of government fees and attorney costs. For an initial H-1B petition that would include a $460 application fee, the new $500 supplemental fee, attorney fees that range from $1,500 to $4,000, additional legal fees of $2,000 to $4,500 if there is a Request for Evidence, $1,500 for the scholarship and training fee ($750 for smaller employers), a $500 anti-fraud fee (on an initial petition), $2,500 for premium processing (not required but typically necessary), a $4,000 fee for certain employers with a higher proportion of H-1Bs in their workforce and $190 visa application fee.

An employer would need to pay most of the costs cited above again for an extension, while the cost to sponsor an H-1B professional for permanent residence would likely add another $10,000 to $15,000 or more.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2021/11/01/new-increase-in-h-1b-visa-fees-further-shatters-cheap-labor-myth/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=follow&cdlcid=5e4bc7f55b099ce02faa6b40&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=follow&cdlcid=5e4bc7f55b099ce02faa6b40&sh=5a689b395b15

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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