Monday, August 23, 2010

Increased Fees for Worker Visas

On August 13, 2010, President Obama signed a law that contains a new fee for worker visas (H-1B and L nonimmigrant work visas). The new fee is $2,000, which is in addition to the following already existing fees: $320 base I-129 filing fee, $500 fraud prevention fee, $1,500 American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 fee ($750 if the employer has less than 25 employees), and a $1,000 optional expedited 2-week processing service fee. The new fee only applies to companies with 50 or more employees in the United States with more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States in H-1B or L visas. The new fee increase will help pay for the cost of an increase in border security.

It remains to be seen whether this fee increase can help reduce the unemployment rate. Would the $2,000 fee serve as a sufficient deterrent for US employers to start hiring US citizens or residents instead of the foreign workers? Unlikely, given that the US employers can subtract the fee from the salary or have the visa workers pay for it. However, the fee may have an adverse effect of causing Americans lose more jobs. Because of the overall costs and time required to bring in a qualified foreign worker, the US employers may choose to outsource more jobs to India and other destinations rather than hire in their US locations.

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