H1-B Visa Fees Explained

Updated on April 12, 2024

When petitioning for an H-1B visa, it’s vital to understand and budget for the associated costs mandated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The process begins with a mandatory $10 registration fee per beneficiary for the initial electronic registration, essential for all H-1B cap-subject petitions. Post-selection, several fees apply: the standard filing fee of $460, a $500 Anti-Fraud Fee for new or changing employers (not applicable for extensions), and possibly a $4,000 Public Law 114-113 fee for certain employers. Additionally, for expedited processing, the Premium Processing service offers a 15-day response for an extra charge. As these fees are subject to updates, staying informed on the latest costs is crucial for effective H-1B petition planning. This blog will delve into strategies for managing these expenses efficiently.

30 Second Recap:

Navigating H-1B visa fees is essential for both employers and employees. The process starts with a $10 registration fee per beneficiary, followed by filing fees and additional charges. Basic filing fees include $780 for Form I-129, with variations based on employer size and additional fees like the ACWIA fee ($750 or $1,500) and Fraud Detection and Prevention fee ($500). Public Law 114-113 may require an extra $4,000 fee for certain employers. Premium Processing costs $2,500 for expedited review. It’s crucial to budget for attorney fees, which average around $2,500, and other potential costs like biometrics and visa interview expenses. Stay updated on fee changes and consult an immigration attorney for guidance.


H-1B Fee Structure and Costs

Understanding the H-1B fee structure is crucial for your application’s financial planning. The costs are multifaceted and vary based on employer size, and types of services required.

Basic Filing Fees and Associated Costs

The base filing fee for an H-1B petition is associated with Form I-129, which is a mandatory requirement. As of the fiscal year 2025:

  • Standard Fee: You are required to pay a base fee of $780 for the I-129 petition.
  • ACWIA Fee: For smaller employers (1-25 full-time employees), the fee is $750, while it is $1,500 for employers with more than 25 employees.
  • Fraud Detection and Prevention Fee: You must pay this $500 fee if you’re a new H-1B employer or if you’re sponsoring an employee for the first time.
  • Public Law 114-113 Fee: Employers with 50 or more employees, where more than 50% of their employees are on H-1B or L-1 visas, are liable to pay an additional $4,000.

Premium Processing and Additional Services

For expedited processing of your petition, USCIS provides a Premium Processing Service which, as of the most recent update, costs you an additional:

  • Premium Processing Fee: $2,500, which guarantees a 15-day processing time.

This service is optional but beneficial if you want a decision on your H-1B petition in a shorter timeframe than standard processing.

Employer-Specific Fees and Public Law Charges

Different fees may be applicable depending on the type of employer:

  • Small Employers and Nonprofits: You may have reduced fees as mandated by USCIS regulations and specific public laws to encourage applications from varied business scales.
  • Larger Employers (50+ Employees): If your workforce consists of high numbers of H-1B and L visa holders, you must additionally comply with charges under Public Law 114-113.
  • New Fees: Always check for updates before filing, as USCIS occasionally adjusts its fee structure.

Be sure to check for the most current fees as these are subject to change and updates by USCIS to align with operational costs and fiscal requirements.

Need help with your H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa process is complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re struggling to understand all of the moving parts, let Stilt help. Our team of H-1B visa experts can help you make sense of all the eligibility requirements, documents, and the application process.

Navigating the H-1B visa process requires understanding both the procedural steps involved from registration to petition submission and the crucial role that immigration attorneys play in this complex landscape.

The Registration and Petition Submission Process

To begin your journey toward an H-1B visa, you must first participate in the H-1B registration process through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) electronic registration system. Here are the steps:

  1. Your sponsoring company completes the electronic registration.
  2. USCIS conducts a selection process.
  3. If selected, your sponsoring company files the Form I-129 petition along with supporting documentation and the applicable application fee.

It’s important to understand that there are additional fees depending on your specific circumstances, which may include:

  • Premium Processing Fees: For a faster decision, you can opt for premium processing by paying an extra fee.
  • Biometrics: Some applications may require a biometrics fee.
  • Visa Interview Appointments and Photos: You must also prepare for potential costs associated with visa interview appointments, such as photos and transport.

Role of Immigration Attorneys

Securing the services of a qualified immigration attorney or lawyer can be vital to ensure that your petition is correctly filed and that you are adequately represented throughout the process. Consider the following:

  • An immigration lawyer will help prepare and review your petition to avoid common mistakes that can lead to delays or denials.
  • Attorney fees can vary but typically you can expect an average fee of $2,500, as highlighted by different firms. This fee is separate from the USCIS filing and processing fees.
  • Lawyers are also instrumental in preparing you for visa interview appointments and advising on the latest USCIS regulations.

Keep in mind that while some companies cover the immigration attorney fee, others may require that you pay for these services yourself. Always clarify these responsibilities with your sponsoring company beforehand.

H-1B Visa Fee Insights from H-1B Visa Holders

One of the trickier aspects of the H-1B visa process involves sorting out which fees employers and employees are responsible for paying. A recent discussion on Reddit highlighted some confusion and concerning practices in this area.

An incoming graduate wrote: “My company said I have to bear the cost of the entire H-1B process and will be supported by the company’s lawyer. The cost includes $1,500 now for initial processing and later $4,000, if my lottery gets picked.”

The Law is Clear – Employers Must Pay Required H-1B Fees

Numerous responses swiftly pointed out that having the employee pay any of the legally required H-1B fees would be a violation of immigration law and regulations:

“Making employees pay for any part of H-1B is illegal. If USCIS finds out, the company is going to be in a lot of trouble – hefty fines and all future H-1Bs will be heavily scrutinized.”

“It’s illegal for an employee to pay for H-1B sponsorship.”

As one immigration lawyer confirmed: “An employee is prohibited by law from paying the legal or filing fees for an H-1B. If USCIS were to discover that you paid they may revoke your H-1B and fine the employer.”

The Only Exception – Employees Can Pay Premium Processing Fee

There is one limited scenario where an employee can pay a fee related to their H-1B petition:

“The one exception is the premium processing fee, which can be paid by the employee IF it will not put them below the prevailing wage.”

At $2,500 currently, the premium processing fee is optional but expedites processing to 15 calendar days.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

Multiple commenters raised red flags about an employer trying to push visa fees onto a prospective H-1B hire:

“I wouldn’t suggest joining anywhere the employee has to pay for visa application, etc. It’s a bright red flag.”

“If your employer is willing to deliberately break the law to save some money, what other laws are they willing to break?”

The sentiment was that requesting illegal fee payments from an employee at the outset could indicate deeper shadiness or willingness to cut corners with wages, working conditions and more.

Ensuring all required H-1B fees are paid by the petitioning employer is not just a legal requirement, but a basic respect test for employees’ rights. Any push to circumvent these responsibilities should be a major warning sign.

Need help with your H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa process is complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re struggling to understand all of the moving parts, let Stilt help. Our team of H-1B visa experts can help you make sense of all the eligibility requirements, documents, and the application process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating the costs associated with the H-1B visa process is essential for both employers and employees. Understand the recent changes and specific fees to ensure compliance and proper budgeting.

What is the current premium processing fee for an H-1B visa?

As of the latest information, the premium processing fee is not specified here in the provided details. You may need to refer to the official USCIS website or recent fee schedules for the most current fee structure.

How much does an employer have to pay for an H-1B visa filing with USCIS?

Employers are required to pay several fees when filing an H-1B visa application. These may include the base filing fee, currently $460, a fraud prevention and detection fee of $500, and an additional Public Law 114-113 fee of $4,000 for certain companies, as well as other possible costs.

What are the latest changes to the H-1B visa fee structure?

On January 31, 2024, USCIS implemented new fees, aiming to fully recover operating costs and maintain efficient processing times. This was the first major adjustment since 2016. For accurate fee amounts, the USCIS Fee Schedule (Form G-1055) or USCIS online Fee Calculator should be consulted.

What costs are involved in an H-1B visa extension for an employee?

The costs for an H-1B visa extension typically include the base filing fee and may also require the ACWIA fee, fraud prevention and detection fee, and in some cases, the Public Law 114-113 fee. These are similar to initial filing costs but ensure to check for any updates to the fee structure.

Can you detail the ACWIA fee and who is required to pay it?

The ACWIA (American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act) fee is paid by employers to support the training of U.S. workers. Regular employers pay $750 for companies with 25 or fewer full-time employees, while those with more than 25 employees pay $1,500.

What are the financial implications of transferring an H-1B visa to a new employer?

When transferring an H-1B visa, the new employer must pay the base filing fee, fraud prevention and detection fee, and potentially the ACWIA fee and Public Law 114-113 fee if applicable. The costs mirror those of a new H-1B visa filing, minus the visa issuance fee which is only paid overseas.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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