Further increase in H-1B visa fees further shatters ‘cheap labor’ myth

Reviews of H-1B visa holders do not mention the high fees required to file an H-1B application or the large number of job postings in IT professions. If the House Reconciliation Bill becomes law, filing an H-1B petition will become more expensive, further shattering what businesses and lawyers call the myth of H-1B visa holders as ” cheap labor ”.

The flawed premise of nearly all restrictions on the immigration of highly skilled people is that foreign-born scientists and engineers offer no value to the United States or American companies except a willingness to to work for less money, analysts note. This is the premise even though the key people behind the vaccines that have saved the lives of many Americans from Covid-19 are former international students, H-1B visa holders and employed immigrants. Even some members of Congress sympathetic to refugees and people without legal status imply that it is a giveaway to businesses to allow businesses to hire highly skilled foreign nationals and sponsor them for permanent residence.

In reality, coming to America as an international student and achieving H-1B status, or being hired directly on an H-1B visa, is just another way to pursue the American dream. For many, this is a necessary step in the US immigration system to have the opportunity to stay permanently and start a career and family in America. A new House bill will make it more expensive for employers to file petitions for those who pursue these dreams.

The most recent version of the House reconciliation bill, which is expected to be voted on soon, adds an additional fee of $ 500 to the existing fee for H-1B petitions. This is one of many fee increases added to the bill after the immigration measures were passed by the House Judiciary Committee in September 2021.

As detailed in a section-by-section summary published with the text of the House bill:

“Article 60004 provides that the fees collected under sub-title A are deposited in the general fund of the Treasury and cannot be exempted. This section also establishes additional additional charges as follows:

• $ 100 for certain family sponsored immigrant visa applications (Form I-130)

• $ 800 for each employment-based immigrant visa application (Form I-140)

• $ 15,000 for each application for a fifth employment-based preference (Form I-526)

• $ 19 for each Form I-94 / I-94W issued to non-immigrants entering the United States

• $ 250 for each F-1 and M-1 non-immigrant student and J-1 exchange visitor to be paid by the accredited educational institution or designated visitor exchange program

• $ 500 for each request to replace an LPR card that has expired or is in the process of expiring

• $ 500 for each request for status E, H-1B, L, O or P (form I-129)

• $ 500 for each request for a change or extension of non-immigrant status (form I-539)

• $ 500 for work authorization applications (form I-765) submitted by the spouses of certain non-immigrants, students seeking optional practical training and applicants for adjustment of status

• $ 75 for each approved nonimmigrant visa. “

With the increase in fees, a business can spend up to $ 31,800 for filing an initial H-1B petition (for three years) and an additional three-year extension, based on an analysis of the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) government fees and attorney fees. For an initial H-1B petition that would include a filing fee of $ 460, the new additional fees of $ 500, attorney fees ranging from $ 1,500 to $ 4,000, additional legal fees of $ 2,000 to 4 $ 500 if there is a request for proof, $ 1,500 for the scholarship and training fees ($ 750 for small employers), anti-fraud fees of $ 500 (on an initial request), $ 2,500 for premium processing (not required but usually required), a $ 4,000 fee for some employers with a higher proportion of H-1B in their workforce and $ 190 visa application fee.

An employer would again have to pay most of the costs mentioned above for an extension, while the cost of sponsoring an H-1B professional for permanent residence would likely add $ 10,000 to $ 15,000 or more.

By law, to get approval for an H-1B petition, an employer must pay “at least– (I) the actual wage level paid by the employer to all other persons with similar experience and qualifications for the specific job in question, or (II) the prevailing wage level for the professional classification in the working area, the biggest. “

Many economists have concluded that H-1B visa holders earn as much or more than comparable U.S. professionals. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found in the Electrical / Electronic Engineering Professions category (age group 20-39) the median salary of an engineer with H-1B status $ 5,000 higher than that of a American engineer. A Glassdoor analysis concluded: “In the 10 cities and about 100 jobs that we looked at, the salaries of foreign H-1B workers are around. 2.8 percent upper than comparable US salaries on Glassdoor.

After examining the skills and compensation of more than 50,000 IT professionals in the United States, University of Maryland researchers Sunil Mithas and Henry C. Lucas, Jr., wrote: “[C]Contrary to popular belief, non-American computer scientists are no less well paid than American computer scientists. According to economists Magnus Lofstrom and Joseph Hayes of the Public Policy Institute of California, “[O]all H-1B workers in STEM occupations have higher earnings than their otherwise observably similar US-born counterparts. In a May 2020 National Foundation for American Policy study, economist Madeline Zavodny found: “[T]Evidence indicates that the presence of H-1B visa holders is associated with lower unemployment rates and faster income growth among college graduates, including recent college graduates.

Even though H-1B professionals are not paid less than their American counterparts, the Department of Labor finds every year that some H-1B visa holders have been underpaid and that some companies have broken the law. However, claiming that companies hire H-1B visa holders because they are “cheap labor” is not a political argument, but an attempt to belittle H-1B professionals as “cheap labor”. than human beings and diminish their talent.

Uncertainty is an additional cost for employers. At 85,000 per year, the annual H-1B limit is low. Employers have filed 308,000 H-1B records for the selection of the cap for fiscal year 2022, according to USCIS. However, over 72% of H-1B registrations for highly qualified foreign nationals were rejected before an arbitrator assessed the application due to the annual limit.

“I think employers sponsor H-1B professionals because they have to, not necessarily because they want to,” Parker, Butte & Lane’s Dagmar Butte said in an interview. “It’s expensive, comes with compliance issues that aren’t a national hiring factor and is limited to 6 years.

“At the end of this time and a significant investment, there is no guarantee that the employee will be able to stay in the United States in the long term. Otherwise, the employer starts over. I’ve spoken to employers who say the worst part is when you develop a star employee who excels and their visa isn’t renewed or the green card application fails. Then you have to replace them with someone new and it is such a waste of time, money and human potential.

Most of the arguments against H-1B visa holders are based on anecdotes, some dating back to ten years ago. Even these anecdotes omit that companies regularly outsource work and, unfortunately, individuals sometimes lose their jobs when this happens, whether or not a contract is awarded to a company that employs foreign nationals. The problem is often that the parent company hasn’t adopted policies that continually train employees to become part of the answer when the business takes a new direction or seeks a new technology solution. Other times, depending on the firms that advise companies on whether to outsource a function, a company focuses on its core business or seeks access to technology and expertise that it does not have in-house. .

Despite arguments by some that H-1B visa holders are preventing U.S. professionals from getting jobs, the data and economic reality say otherwise. “There are more than 1.2 million unique active job postings in IT occupations in the United States as of September 6, 2021, up 15% from 6 months earlier,” according to data from Emsi Job Posting Analytics, according to NFAP analysis. Only around 56,000 new H-1B petitions filed by businesses relate to IT professions each year, meaning there are “more than 20 times more job postings in IT professions than new H- petitions. 1B ”in these types of jobs.

Hiring an H-1B visa holder will become more expensive if the House reconciliation bill becomes law. Employers will pay the additional fee, as an H-1B visa is usually the only practical way to hire a highly qualified foreign national, including an international student, for long-term work in America.

Lee J. Murillo

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