New Fee for H-1B Applications Hints at Tightening Program

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wants to institute a $10 registration fee for each H-1B visa application. The agency claims that the added money will allow it to better “adjudicate” those applications.

“When DHS creates new USCIS programs through separate rulemakings that require adjudication resources, a fee is necessary to recover the costs of those resources even where the exact costs are difficult to estimate until the program is operational,” reads the agency’s helpful literature on the matter.

Over the past few years, USCIS has been systematically cracking down on various aspects of the H-1B process. For example, the agency recently began asking companies about the type of work that H-1B visa recipients will be doing, right down to vendor agreements, subcontractors, and lists of projects. These requests for evidence (RFEs) have caused much consternation among companies, and may have driven a declining rate of visa approvals.

Since President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, which he signed two years ago, the government has suspended premium processing of H-1B petitions (before resuming it), signaled an intention to kill H-4 EAD, and planned to completely change how the H-1B lottery is run.

As a side effect of these adjustments and orders, the federal government has released lots of information about H-1B applicants, their companies, and even their subcontractors. A recent dataset from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) shows us who is hiring H-1B visa candidates—including the so-called “secondary entities,” which is a designation given to companies that use outsourcing to bring in foreign talent. (Using that dataset, we also identified that H-1B visa hires are most often identified as “software engineers” or “software developers” by title, which isn’t exactly the “specialty occupation” that the visa was ostensibly designed for.)

Dropping a $10 fee on H-1B applicants during the next visa lottery won’t have a material impact on the companies looking to source foreign talent. In fact, USCIS argues that the new registration system, including this fee, will ultimately save some employers money by rejecting their applications before the ultra-expensive later stages (per USCIS’s literature: “…estimated that the H-1B registration process will result in an average undiscounted cost savings for all unselected petitioners ranging from $42.7 million to $66.8 million annually…”). Nonetheless, this is yet another example of the federal government tightening the H-1B process is all kinds of small ways, as part of its broader attempt to overhaul the system (while keeping at least some of its costs down).

20 Responses to “New Fee for H-1B Applications Hints at Tightening Program”

    • Talent8leeder

      The fee will not matter – and the multinationals just need to keep a strangle hold on USCIS via lobbists, etc for a few more years which is probably why you see breadcrumb actions such as these that try to put a “we are truly working hard for the people” face to it; after that they will be in a position to care less what the inept government may try. Almost all multinationals, at long last, over the past decade have completed their heavy infrastructure investments in countries like India, whom have a mere fraction of GDP and cost of living as the US, and (speaking from experience) are wrapping up offshoring the remaining software engineer and related fields of expertise (like database support and administration functions). If you are inside these multinationals you are likely to be constantly bombarded by the chest beating of their great investments in those other countries. Now what this means long-term for the US is those in such fields now are screwed as they probably completed their investment in education without having the knowledge of how the professions were being drained away and don’t have more than a decade or two of employment left, while those completing their indoctrination in college now, with hindsight of what has happened, are choosing majors that are not so easily drained (either by cheap labor importation or offshoring entirely by a challenged corporate elite). With that smarter shift by new people to have some semblance of a long term career in a different profession, ironically means that the US will be more dependent on foreign labor for STEM and innovation since it is known their is no sweeping will among those in power for anything to the contrary…exactly what the elite have masterfully orchestrated.

  1. In most of the big US financial companies, when i contractor (h1b or US citizen) is hired through US based staffing companies for some IT work, usually he/she can only work there for 18 months to max 24 months in most cases (after that he has to leave)….so this is something most people already know. What most people might not know is that if a contractor is hired in US through indian based offshore companies, the contractor does not have time limitation (as they have different contract terms)… there are offshore company contractors working for these US companies for many many years…and these offshore companies bring more and more people from outside but don’t bother to hire from local jobless pool at a decent wage….Sweet deal!

  2. Most H1B resources not only poorly qualified they also have fake resumes and fake experience.
    As an insult, once a current or former H1B resource gets into a management they almost exclusively hire other H1B resources from their country.
    I had information that when they get hired money exchanges hands as a form of a bribery.
    Unfortunately $10 fee won’t make any difference. It should be more like $20,000.
    There is a lot of dirty business, money, favors and benefits to be exchanged on multiple levels.

  3. The H-1B program is heavily abused and used to stunt the growth of American IT employees and contractors. While labeled a non-immigration work visa program, it’s perceived by many in Washington, as an immigration program.. which it is not. It is admirable that the Trump administration is gathering more intel about the true usage of these foreign contract workers, but to what end? If these workers, in fact, are not being utilized to fill a real talent gap of bleeding edge high tech talent, will they end? Will workers, who are used for menial tasks or legacy system development and support be sent back? Will companies on American soil be forced to work with educators to train workers in the skills they claim they need, or setup internal programs to train the workers themselves? $10 an application is NOTHING. Make it at least $10K per application and you have a basis for funding an education program that will benefit American workers and America. The profits made by the companies who bring H-1B workers to US are huge.. and the $10 would be a drop in the bucket.

  4. U.S. worker displacement by H1B is now happening to the ACCOUNTING profession.

    Walmart has given 600 Accountant positions to H1B visa worker from India rather than to U.S.Candidates.


  5. UTAH Senator Mike Lee is pushing a bill that allows unlimited OPT to H1B conversions.

    OPT is program that exists on almost every U.S. university campus. It provides a direct channel for U.S. companies to convert foreign students who are attending U.S. a campus directly into an H1B visa employee. Thereby skipping over U.S. citizens who graduate from the same university. The bill makes it even easier to cut U.S. graduates out of the job market.

  6. Lot of H1b working in American Express and there is no problem with extension .. few people already extended for 10+ years…and dependent are also working in IT …. I don’t see any rule is affecting in H1b..

  7. We need per-country caps on H1b, L1 and B1 visas. This will make the employers sponsoring these visas pay more attention to the quality of the workers. Plus a minimum pay of $150k/year. This $10 will do nothing.

    • i totally agree with imposing Country cap on H1b so that local jobless people can also get jobs at decent living wage. Also bringing IT consultants from outside US should be completely banned as US is over flowing with so many people looking for IT jobs at decent wage.

      The offshore consulting companies have completely clogged the system. if i have a product company outside US and i want to move my manufacturing to US along with my employees then i can’t do it because the offshore consulting companies flood the system with millions of their own country people to get advantage in H1b “lottery” and others just loose.

  8. ThatRealGuy

    Guys can we just stop complaining and actually work hard to get something and not be the overprivilged guys that this millennial generation has become.
    Free market capitalism has been successful for a reason, lets not turn to socialism because we cant work hard enough to compete.