Silicon Valley H-1B Employers Shaken Down for Higher Fees

Silicon Valley large employers of a foreign national workforce should get ready for their filing fees to double for an H-1B and triple for an L-1. The filing fees to submit one H-1B petition by a company larger than 25 people has held at $2320 for a couple years ($320 I-129 petition fee + $1500 supplemental fee + $500 fraud fee). An employer can add an extra $1000 for premium processing, to have the USCIS adjudicate the petition within 15 days. Now, companies with more than 50 U.S. employees, and whose workforce is more than 50% H-1B or L-1 status, must pay an additional $2000 (H-1B) or $2250 (L-1) per new petition. This will bring the total to $4320 for an H-1B, and $3070 for an L-1 ($320 I-120 petition fee + $500 fraud fee + new $2250 fee). This does not include any premium processing fee, or other potential fees such as education evaluations, translations, or visa fees.

These increased fees come from a new law, Public Law 111-230, President Obama signed in August for emergency supplemental appropriations for border security. The text of the law shows hundreds of millions of dollars going towards salaries for Customs and Border Patrol salaries and equipment. Maintaining a secure border is critical to our nation's security, and I support our government allocating necessary funds to carry out this purpose. But why double the filing fees for large employers? Does Congress think these fees will make employers hire more U.S. workers instead of foreign nationals? This thinking doesn't even make sense for an L-1, which is an intra-company transferee. For an L-1, a U.S. company that is a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of a foreign company transfers a current employee of the foreign company to the U.S. office. The L-1 transferee is coming to the U.S. because they are already an executive or manager of the foreign company, or because they have specialized company knowledge.

Or is our government just looking for someplace to get more revenue? When the USCIS raises filing fees across the board, they always explain that the filing fees fund the operations of the USCIS. With this new law, the funds do not go to the USCIS for operations. Instead they go directly into the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury. In other words, this is basically a tax on large employers with a high foreign-national work force.

Work Visas / by Michelle Gee