The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) just finalized a rule that will require H-1B visa petitioners to pay a $10 fee upon submitting their electronic registration.
H-1B is a non-immigrant temporary visa for foreign workers in specialty occupations that need a bachelor’s degree or higher. It is petitioned for by the US employer aiming to hire the foreign worker.
Earlier this year, the US Department of Homeland Security finalized a rule for employers to electronically register with the USCIS before they can proceed with the H-1B process. From the pre-registered employers, the USCIS will randomly select those that are eligible to pursue an H-1B visa petition.
The pre-registration period will be a limited timeframe each year, regulating the number of applicants in the H-1B lottery pool. It will also prevent petitioners from filing multiple petitions for one foreign beneficiary. This practice is prohibited but common. If the system detects more than one petition for a single beneficiary, all petitions for that beneficiary will be revoked.
Though the electronic registration requirement and its accompanying fee have been finalized, they start in the 2020 cap season. The registration system is currently being tested before implementation. Once the USCIS has formally decided on the dates, it will announce the registration timeframe in advance in the Federal Register, promising ample notice to the public before the period starts.
The non-refundable $10 fee comes on top of the nearly $4,000 fees already associated with the H-1B visa application. These include:
- the basic filing charge of $460
- the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act charge of $1,500
- the fraud prevention charge of $500
- the premium processing charge of $1,410.
USCIS says the new fee is needed to support the electronic registration system, as the agency is fee-funded.
Several other changes have been introduced to the H-1B visa application process, including reversing the order of the visa cap lottery. Now, the lottery will be conducted to fill the 65,000 visa quota first, including advanced-degree holders. Unselected applicants with US advanced degrees will then be eligible for the second lottery run for 20,000 slots.
If you are an American employer hoping to bring in a foreign worker, or if you are a foreign national hoping to work for a US company, it is crucial to understand these new changes. Consult with us at Richards & Jurusik for up-to-date guidance and strategies for your visa application by calling us at 1-866-697-1832 today.