House Reconciliation Bill Would Add H-1B Supplemental Fees

The reconciliation bill moving through the U.S. House of Representatives, better known as the Build Back Better Act, contains a lot of proposals for a lot of programs. Buried in its lengthy page-count are a few motions that could radically impact the H-1B and other work-based visas.

Section 60004 (did we mention that the bill is really, really long?) establishes “additional supplemental fees” for visas, including “$500 for each petition for E, H-1B, L, O, or P status (Form I-129).” (Just in case you have a whole lot of free time, the section-by-section breakdown of the bill is available on the website.)

In other words, a company petitioning for an H-1B might end up paying the $460 application fee, the $500 supplemental fee, and thousands in legal fees and premium processing (at least, that’s how Stuart Anderson crunches the numbers over at Forbes). For those firms seeking only one or two H-1B workers, the added fee might not blow a hole in the budget; but for the business-services and consulting giants with a business model centered on many thousands of H-1B applications per year, that extra $500 per petition could add substantially to the bottom line.

During the Trump administration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjusted fees for visas, including the H-1B. The new fee structure (including a $4,000 price tag for renewals) was seemingly designed to make things more expensive for business-services and consulting firms. Although Biden’s administration rolled back many of the Trump-era visa laws, the reconciliation bill (if it passes in its current format) could continue the financial pressure on those companies sourcing thousands of visas.

For critics of the H-1B system who allege that too many companies use the visa to import cheaper labor from overseas, these added fees could prove a good thing. H-1B advocates, meanwhile, will push back. And the big question still remains whether Biden will take bigger steps to revamp the H-1B—the administration’s first regulatory agenda, published over the summer, hinted at the administration’s intention to “modernize” H-1B requirements, but didn’t provide much detail other than that. 

3 Responses to “House Reconciliation Bill Would Add H-1B Supplemental Fees”

  1. Jake_Leone

    A company can save 25% each year on salary, with a person on an H-1b visa. Even at the low end of 60k, that’s a 15k$ per year savings, 90k over 6 years. Any one time fee increase, less than 90$k, is a deal. Any opposition to such a change, is just pure whining and represents companies unwilling to pay their fair share of the cost of government.

    But, frankly, the change to a salary based allocation of H-1b visas (from the current Brain-Dead random chance lottery), would bring in a huge amount more in tax revenue than these proposed one time fees. Because basing H-1b allocation on salary would raise average H-1b salaries by at least 25% (probably 40-50%). Multiply that by 85000 * 35% tax bracken * 50k$/year * 6 year, that about 9 billion taxes lost. All thanks to Joe Biden’s unwillingness to enact the trump change to a salary based allocation of H-1b visas.

    The Joe Biden administration is a real losing proposition for U.S. Government revenue. That’s the price of spite. Joe Biden has said he would roll back every Trump change on immigration, and so far, he has. And as you can see this one spiteful role back is costing the U.S. Treasury 9 Billion dollars.

  2. Too little. There needs to be a larger increase in fees to support better verification of qualifications and LCA attestation (with narrower allowance for skill sets, locations and work assignments) and audits after the fact. This needs to be use for temporary needs – not long term use and not for immigration purposes.

    • Eugene A Klaus

      I agree this is too little fee-wise, and the documentation for vetting these visas should be increased.
      I have been affected directly as have many of my colleagues.
      Native countries of the visa seekers have been encouraged, financially and with questionable documentation.
      Meanwhile, the integrity of the security of our nation has been compromised.