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Higher Filing Fees for H-1B and L Visas and Additional H-1B Numbers for Master Degree Holders

Dec 8, 2004

Higher Filing Fees

Higher filing fees are in the future for H-1B and L-1 visa holders. President Bush signed the Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY 2005, which contain provisions affecting the H-1B and L nonimmigrant visa categories.

Effective December 8, 2004, there is a $1,500 filing fee for an employer who sponsors an H-1B worker. If an employer has no more than 25 full-time equivalent employees, then it may submit a reduced fee of $750. Certain types of employers (i.e. those affiliated with an institution of higher education, performing governmental research, etc.) are exempt from these filing fees (see Form I-129w).

Effective March 8, 2005, there is an additional filing fee of $500 that must be paid by petitioners seeking a worker’s initial grant of H-1B or L nonimmigrant classification or those employers seeking to change a beneficiary’s employer within those classifications. There are no exceptions to from the $500 fee other than petitions to amend or extend stays.

Each of these fees is in addition to the $185 base-processing fee to file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

Additional H-1B Numbers

Effective March 8, 2005, there will be 20,000 additional H-1B numbers for FY 2005 for those who have earned a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education. It is unclear at the time of writing this newsletter when the USCIS intends to start accepting applications for the additional numbers.

In the future, the first 20,000 H-1B beneficiaries who have earned a master’s degree or higher in the U.S. will not be counted against the cap. After the slots are filled, they will be counted against the visa cap of 65,000 for the fiscal year.

Moreover, nonimmigrants currently in the U.S. on a J-1 (exchange) visa who received a waiver of the two-year residency requirement if requested by a federal or state agency are now exempt from the H-1B cap.

Please read the attached press release, “USCIS to Implement H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004.” pdf

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