H-1B Fees Set to Rise, Big Impact on Tech Possible

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is adjusting fees for visas, including the H-1B. These new fees, designed to more fairly reflect “the time agency offices spend adjudicating petitions and applications” (in the federal government’s words), represent a weighted average increase of 20 percent over the old price structure.

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy, wrote in a statement on the USCIS website. “These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”

The new fees will start on Oct. 2, 2020. Of course, those who follow the twists and turns of H-1B policy know that President Trump’s temporary ban on H-1Bs, already in place, will extend to the end of 2020. You might think that, if Trump wins the upcoming election and renews the ban, these fees in the context of new H-1B applications will largely be a moot point, but there’s also a new fee structure for visa extensions that could impact those who already have an H-1B (as well as the companies they work for).   

For those applying for an I-129H1 (petition for nonimmigrant worker: H-1 classification (H-1B, H-1B1), the fee will rise from the current $460 to $555, a 21 percent change. For companies with more than 50 employees, more than 50 percent of whom utilize either the H-1B or L-1, the fee for visa renewals will come to $4,000 (for H-1Bs) and $4,500 (for L-1s). According to The Mercury News, this added fee for renewals could earn USCIS an additional $200 million per year.

USCIS insists the money is necessary, because the current fee structure leaves it with a shortfall of roughly $1 billion per year. Collected fees account for 97 percent of the agency’s overall budget.

The added fees will likely have a significant impact on subcontractors and business-services firms that specialize in contracting H-1B workers to other firms. Although multi-million- and multi-billion-dollar firms can easily absorb the fees associated with a handful of renewals, paying $4,000 apiece for many thousands of workers can impact the bottom line. 

Even before these added fees, USCIS and the Trump administration had cracked down on subcontractors. A recent analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) found that the H-1B application denial rate for these firms had skyrocketed over the past four years, especially when compared to “regular” tech companies. Check out the chart:

Dice’s separate analysis of USCIS data suggests that the rate of initial H-1B approvals (as well as approvals post-RFE) has crept up slightly after a period of declines, but the latest policy maneuvers could have a substantial influence on the number of H-1B approvals going forward. Even if Trump’s H-1B ban is temporary, the new fee structure could make companies seriously re-consider their visa strategy. 

62 Responses to “H-1B Fees Set to Rise, Big Impact on Tech Possible”

  1. These fee examples only indicate slight fee increases and are negligible. The fees should have been raised by multiple decimal places. In the end, the fees are paid by the hiring companies, who have bottomless economic resources from exclusively hiring H1B’s in the first place. Also: look what a mess Windows 10 is by putting an H1B in charge of a shop full of H1B’s to produce it!

    • You are hired based on skill in IT , not because you are US citizen , most of IT companies are global, also remember Oracle, microsoft, google, amazon has bigger offices in india now in comparison to USA, if this fee increase continues there will be no IT sector in USA, in comparison to any other nation, this immigration fees is highest and wrong.

      • My guess you are an Indian looking for a pathway to residency in the USA where your wife drops a kid who is automatically a citizen and thus, you and she cannot be deported.

        The reason the IT companies have more offices in the shithole country of India is that labor is cheaper there and because US and other multi-national companies don’t give a sh*t about US citizens and will sell this country and its people down the river to make a buck.

        • jake leone

          You are right, there are in fact more than 8 cheaper replacements for every American workers. They are cheaper, only because of the high value of the U.S. dollar.

          What makes the U.S. dollar so valuable? That’s the real question. The U.S. dollar is valuable in comparison to other currencies for a bunch of reasons:

          – Many commodities are traded in dollars
          – There are no restrictions on foreign land ownership in the United States
          – The Federal reserve cannot print money, unless the national debt is raised.
          – The U.S. is a fairly productive country.
          – The attraction of a well regulated, and rising, stock market

          These things make dollars desirable. If other countries would adopt all of these items (especially the one on foreign ownership) other currencies would rapidly rise, and equilibrium quickly achieved. You would see a differential that is more like what we see between U.S. coastal techies and midwestern industrial zones. You would see a differential like that we see between U.S. workers and Japanese, European, and Israeli workers. About a +-20% difference, not significant.

          But, wait, other countries haven’t changed their policies. As a result, their currencies are deemed way cheaper than the United States currency. The workers in the other countries, therefore, seem cheaper. But there is still a cost. That cost comes in the form of demand (and cost) for commodities, like oil.

          We have to ask ourselves, why aren’t other countries changing their policies? It’s simple, in other countries jobs matter more than real estate and commodity wealth. Other counties, deliberately impair the value of their currency, knowing full well that it will not impact the local standard of living, so long as there is increasing employment (as a result of those policies).

          So let’s say we do import unlimited numbers of people, what happens then? Well local communities in the U.S. get overwhelmed, housing costs rise, transportation costs rise, taxes/bridge tolls rise… So isn’t it better to just keep the foreign workers overseas? It is even better for local U.S. workers, because they get an easier commute, lowered housing cost, and less demand for taxes to pay for unneeded roads.

      • I don’t know if these companies have more workers in one country vs here in the US as you say but their headquarters are here and the US market generates most of their revenue, which is why hiring and offshoring workers is such a sticky situation.

        If a company makes 40+ percent of their revenue in the US, should they really have 20, 30, or 50+ percent of their employees/contractors in India? India is growing market but it generates well less than 10% of the revenue for these companies.

    • Johnny Quest

      I agree with making up for damage already done. My suggestion would be to subsidize training in technologies that will give the US strategic advantage – for displaced American workers. Using the dollars from companies that hire a lot of H1B’s. Things like AI, Machine Learning, Cloud, Python, R, etc.

    • To do so, you need to upskill your own people and not just blame H1B and Indians. Indians are leader in IT industry across the globe. US firms can not find enough talent in their home country and hire from outside to stay in the game, else they will vanish without Indians. If giants like MicroSoft/Google/Mastercard etc. start thinking like you to not hire Indians, they will surely lose a lot of quality talent and their position in the game.

  2. If USCIS runs on fee, they should know how much to increase. This minor rate increase not affects anyone in H/L/F1 industry.
    And H/L/F1 industry have strong union and lobbyists win legal cases and jobs for them and offshore services.
    Only Trump working hard for Citizens.

    • And let’s hope Trump gets reelected. If he doesn’t, the lobbyists and corrupt politicians will be back in full swing, screwing over American citizens for personal interests.

    • Will never happen. The Tech giants like IBM, Oracle, FB, Twitter, et al are all economic traitors. They preach leftist and socialist policies, but when it comes to a buck, they’ll sell this country and its people down the river faster than you can blink.

      The tech giants are the enemy of the US. My suggestion: START by DEPORTING ALL H1B visa holders and also, REPEAL the 14th AMENDMENT to the US Constitution that grants citizenship at birth. NOne of the Eurotrash countries have it, so why should we? It was passed to grant citizenship to former slaves and their children, NOT to be citizenship at birth for anyone lucky enough to make it to US Soil.

  3. Abdul Debulbulemir

    As an ex-H1B, now a US citizen, here’s my take, even at the risk of being accused of pulling up the drawbridge:
    1. A technical headhunter will often charge 3 months salary for a US technical hire, in the region of $25k, so the H1B initial and renewal fee should be about $30k – after all, one wouldn’t want to gouge US employers! ;-).
    2. H1B visas should only be for truly exceptional people that really ARE hard to find among US candidates, thus the minimum salary paid to the actual candidate should be 150% of the median technical salary in any area, say $150k.
    The above rules would have large US corporations foaming at the mouth with rage, and send the likes of Wipro and Tata back where they belong.

  4. H1B program is a big scam on all of us, american workers. I have been looking for work for many months now. I was hoping tightening H1B would give me a better chance. I’ve also seen many comments here stating that there is a shortage of IT workers in the U.S. and unemployment rate of American IT workers is almost nil. One can’t really say that I’m not as good as the Indian workers since I do teach them and show them how to resolve their tech issues. The main difference that I do see is that I will not accept cheap H1B rates.

    • @Nancy: I feel your pain. I’ve been in this situation before.

      Just a thought: Have you considered applying for jobs through Dice.com’s sister website ClearanceJobs.com? You may not be able to register unless you have clearance. But you can view ads and apply directly to companies that would sponsor for clearance. US Citizenship is mandatory to get clearances in most cases.

      Good Luck!

      • Thank you! I didn’t know about that. I will look at it right now. Hope my being a USC will work this time. Isn’t that sick to even hope that I would get a better chance at getting a job because I’m american?!

  5. Raise the fees by 100% and force companies to think twice of even bringing in outside workers. Honestly these H1-B are not worth a dime. Most are hard to understand and deliver poor quality. They are not worth their weight.

    • Do_u_care

      It is so pathetic to see folks fighting over H1B visas which hardly makes up 0.5% of the american workforce. If you are unemployed and didnt had a chance in the remaining 99.5%, pretty sure how good you are. Being an american citizen, i am unemployed too but instead of crying over H1B folks who are in the country legally and pay their taxes, worry about those who sneak the borders who are in millions. Most of these visa holder work in IT including me, curbing the visas will only reduce the american workforce as i saw these jobs being moved out of country as part of cost cutting measures. By the way, dont think anyone on this forum is a Native American so i am sure that your ancestors might have migrated at some point. America is built by immigrants which is what makes it great and so powerful.

  6. Daniel Hatchett

    H1B are a huge problem, many US citizens are qualified and in many cases over qualified for these positions and are unemployed while H1B are employed right now. The H1B employee fits Corporate America’s MO of controlling workers, they have little leverage to bring internal company issues to light do to losing there jobs after all they are indebted to the employer for sponsorship and can not readily change positions or companies like US citizens can. The US companies hiring H1B essentially have indentured servants all be it with higher pay. I think there is a need for H1B workers, but companies have abused the system at the expense of US citizens, I would challenge anyone to argue this, there are plenty of US citizens able to do most jobs, but they are not willing to live the life of 3rd world applicants living 10 people in a 1 bedroom apartment to do it nor should they have too, H1B’s also in many cases send much of the earnings back home thus the money leaves the US economy so it is double hit to the US economy. US citizens without question won the lottery by simply being born here or in the case of legal immigration worked there tail off to get the privilege of US citizenship and have done it the right way. Protecting American citizens and their livelihood is the first and foremost responsibility of US immigration policy. Allowing big tech to continue to abuse the H1B system has to stop and this is first step to doing so, all be it a small one. The real fix is to require companies to spend their time, resources and a whole lot more money pleading the case of why they need the H1B over someone already here and employable without special exception. It needs to be real money not 4000 dollars which is not even pocket change to the companies abusing the system that is the only way it changes because Corporate America only cares about money, workers are secondary even though we are the ones helping them make said money.

    • There is plenty of work that for security and privacy reasons cannot be offshored. Remember the privacy laws in India give us no protection. Then, the stress and issues involved in managing offshore work is hard to accomodate. There are companies that have tried to offshore their IT and have returned it because it was not workable. Sure companies will complain and threaten to send work out of the country but they know it isn’t a good workable situation.

  7. Factcheck

    Interesting to note. H1B fees make 98% of the agency revenue… how can you expect H1B to be scrapped if its a money making machine for the agency.. .remember USCIS is a self funded agency… $$$ speaks..

    • Take your blinders off – other visas are having their rates increased as well. Plus, if there are fewer H1b visas sought there won’t need to be as much income from that program.

  8. Toland Drump

    I completely agree with these people above wanting to get rid of immigrants. Many of these H1B’s have turned to permanent residents or even citizens over the years and that is NOT ACCEPTABLE. I think we should run a DNA test of EVERY SINGLE PERSON residing in the United States currently (citizen or otherwise) and immediately deport anyone who is not 100% AMERICAN. I would also be happy if we could snatch their assets and use those to fund USCIS and maybe even help our dear fellow Americans affected by this Chinese virus. Immigrants are NOT welcome in America! GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRIES!

        • And what exactly defines “American” DNA?? White, opinionated and intractable (only 1 of which is defined by DNA)? Having a “test” is not that easy, and never will be.

          • Toland Drump

            It might not be easy but neither is getting rid of these freeloaders who have come into MY country and are living on MY money. We all know Indians are biggest freeloaders of all the benefits my government is providing to help its citizens during these harsh times. Why are those that don’t have roots from the great land of AMERICA even given the opportunity to come here and become a part of this nation? No sir, I WILL NOT ACCEPT IT. We should be working together towards weeding ANYONE who is not 100% AMERICAN, and if by that it means having to dig out ancestry records of EVERY SINGLE PERSON in this country, so be it. Even trace amounts of non-american DNA IS NOT ACCEPTBLE. SO GO BACKTO YOUR COUNTRIES!!!! The government has this information anyway so it won’t be very difficult. But it is important that at least to kickstart this process, us white americans stick together. I am NOT a racist but everyone knows that non-white “AMERICANS” have an unhealthy attraction towards Indians and marry them in exchange for green cards and whatnot. So please, stand with me and help purify these toxicities from the country.

      • Toland Drump

        Look at your name. You are not even american so I won’t even bother to respond to your comments. You have a better chance going back to India and becoming a snake charmer as was your family business than polluting my country with your kind. So pack your bags mister, play time is OVER.

    • Toland Drump

      And more importantly, we absolutely NEED to cut all travel from other countries once we weed out every non-american. That is the only way to keep these immigrants OUT. America has everything it needs to perfectly function on its own so it needs absolutely NO CONTACT with outer world because contact with other countries means them invading our country and stealing what’s ours, as we can see now. If this was implemented earlier, there wouldn’t be coronavirus in our country because of India and China.

  9. I disagree with the idea of shifting all visa expenses to immigrant visa seekers or employers. I am an immigrant working in the US. A part of my professional career was about bringing skilled workers from abroad and helping them not only with the paperwork and legal issues but also letting them feel welcome and appreciated. This is a crucial point! Some comments that I read above are definitely not helping to attract foreigners to look for a job in the US.

    The entire idea of the global labor force is that every county hopes to get the best-qualified employees and fill the gaps in various job market sectors. In the end, the whole country and its citizens will benefit from it. The US is competing with Europe, Asia, Australia, and the rest of the world and needs to do more to stay competitive. Right now, it is extremely hard to file the paperwork and get the US work permission. Have you gone through this process? I did it and I know what I am talking about.

    I am sure I am not the only one with this view. Please let me know what you think about it.

  10. from where I stand (hiring) the problem with “american” talent is that a lot of people are totally immobile – don’t want to relocate and will be rather sitting and getting unemployment benefits instead of moving their a$$’ to where the job is… H-1B & OPT EADs (F1 students after graduation) on the other hand are mobile and will go where the job is… so we bring a lot of employees (engineers) from our divisions in France, Brazil and India on L1 visas because our manufacturing (we are not IT – we actually make stuff) facilities happen to be in not so sexy places like “rust belt” (upstate NY) or rural mid-West and it is really difficult to find a qualified local mechanical design engineer or electrical design engineer or industrial engineer who is not a recent college graduate and not like 20-30 years of experience, because what we need is a mid level dude with few years of FT experience…

    • Jake Leone

      We don’t need to be giving H-1b visas to Offshore Outsourcing companies. Offshore Outsourcing companies do nothing but duplicate business processes and relocate entire departments, to India.

      Some tech companies are making huge, per employee, profits. Google 135,000$/yr, Apple 400,000$/yr, Facebook 635,000$/yr. These companies greatly fear having to bid against each other, because they know they have bottomless pockets, and engineers are worth it. That is why we had the “No Poaching” scandal her in Silicon valley.

      The H-1b to Green Card wait time creates a trapped worker, that cannot ask for raise, or leave the job. Until they get a Green Card. Tech companies don’t care how many jobs are removed from the U.S. economy by the Offshore Outsourcing companies. They only want unlimited numbers of H-1b visas. Because that holds down wages. Even if an engineer earns 10x their pay, in returns and profits (see Apple/Facebook). That is still a risk compared to the obviously sure-fire gains of hiring a worker for 60% of the market cost.

      This isn’t a talent relocation problem. It’s a problem that tech executives are not willing to use some of their immense profits to attract talent and will not compete for it. They are waiting for unlimited numbers of H-1b visas. That’s the only way to protect their profit levels, with zero downside risk. If profits go down, corporate executive bonuses also fall. That’s a huge motivation to hold back anyway they can from the inevitable rise in wages that is needed to get U.S. talent to relocate to ridiculously expensive areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area.

  11. If the Big Tech Green Card Bill S.386 passes it will most likely be the end of the road of non-Indian IT workers. Only one senator stands in the way of its passage. Our senators should be made aware that we are the ones who send them to Washington and we are against its passage. Unless we would like to see all of the current American IT workers replaced by Indian ones, we should do all that we can to see that the bill does not become law.

  12. Lost factory job to China at age 37. Went into debt, did shite work during the day and tech school at night, got my certs, but learned the night of graduation that I’d be in competition with H-1Bs I saw uselessly futtering over how to get a motherboard out of a chassis. I never saw the money I expected to thanks to H-1B…and H-1B’s.

    I retired this year and can say that not only is there rampant age-ism in the IT field, but anti-White racism from H-1Bs who think this country is their cash-cow, and Whites are stupid for letting them in, because they come here on visas but then buy houses with cash, and then seek to turn the locale into a miniature version of their less-than-hygienic homelands. Doesn’t matter what color they are, they do the same thing everywhere they go. This isn’t just an economic matter but a national and societal one, and nobody is asking the American citizens whether they want their communities turned into Little Kolkatta for the sake of some offshore firms profits.

  13. Call your Senators and get them to kill S386 — Only one senator is standing in the way of it at the moment and I’m sure he’s just trying to get a deal to Wet his beak.

  14. This is all just noise. Trump has given us a five month reprieve. Remember him in November. However, if you don’t call your Senators and get them to kill S386 our jobs are all Over.

  15. Clearly mostly affects consulting companies. Changes in fees for Apple, Google, Microsoft, Uber, Facebook, etc, have barely changed. Places like Deloitte or Capgemini is where the changes are occuring.

    Side note: Dice needs better moderation in these comments. Definitely some offensive comments here.

  16. Jake Leone

    This 20% increase will have no effect. Rejecting H-1b visas given to Offshore Outsourcing companies will actually help create jobs in the United States. The Offshore Outsourcing companies don’t need H-1b visas. What Offshore Outsourcing companies need is to pay the U.S. free labor market cost for labor. Duplicating business processes isn’t innovation, it merely requires training.

    Further, if the Offshore Outsourcing companies were kicked out of the H-1b system. Either by rising fees or a salary ranking then more visas would be available to businesses that actually innovate (not duplicate).