US hikes H1-B visa fee, move may hit Indian IT companies
Posted on March 29, 2012
Applications for the much sought-after H-1B work visa – used extensively by Indian IT professionals – for the fiscal year beginning October 1, will be accepted beginning April 2, a US federal immigration agency announced on Tuesday.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said H1-B applications will be considered accepted on the date it takes possession of a properly filed petition with the correct fee instead of the date on which it was sent.
India’s software and services companies earn around 60 per cent of their revenues from the US and employ a large number of professionals there.
In a statement, USCIS listed out the details of the fees, which starts at $ 325 to $2,000 by a petitioner who employs 50 or more employees in the US, and where more than 50 per cent of its workers in the US are on H-1B or L-1 non- immigrant status.
This year, the USCIS is charging $750 for employers with 1 to 25 full-time equivalent employees, and $1,500 for employers with 26 or more full-time equivalent employees. Another $500 listed as fraud prevention and detection fee.
Employers seeking premium processing service, in which an application is processed within 15 days, need to submit an additional $1,225.
The Congressionally-mandated limitation on H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2012-13 is 65,000, as in previous years. Additionally, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals who have earned a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the fiscal year cap.
“If the number of applications received exceeds the numerical cap, USCIS will randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the numerical limit from the pool of petitions received on the final receipt date,” USCIS said in a statement, adding that it will reject cap-subject petitions that are not selected, as well as those received after the final receipt date.
Petitions for new H-1B employment are exempt from the annual cap if the beneficiaries will work at institutions of higher education or related or affiliated non-profit entities, non-profit research organisations or governmental research organisations, USCIS said.