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Expired visa filing fees for employers designated as heavy users of H-1B and L-1 visas for high-skilled guest workers are back—and have doubled in size.
Included in the government’s Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, signed by President Barack Obama Dec. 18, the law revives the additional fees for “50/50” employers.
These employers are companies with more than 50 workers in the United States and more than 50 percent of workers on H-1B and L-1 visas. The fees have the largest impact on IT service providers from India, which send thousands of H-1B workers to the U.S. every year.
Since 2010, a $2,000 fee has been imposed on H-1B visa applications and a $2,250 fee on L-1 visa applications from these employers, in addition to the regular processing fees. The 50/50 fee revenue was originally earmarked to help fund a border security initiative before being reallocated in 2014 to help pay for the medical needs of Sept. 11 first responders. The fees had sunset on Sept. 30, 2015.
Effective upon enactment, the fees have been increased from $2,000 to $4,000 for H-1B visas and from $2,250 to $4,500 for L-1 visas. The fees must be paid on initial petitions as well as extensions and are authorized for 10 years, running through Sept. 30, 2025.
The revenue generated by these fees will be split between the Sept. 11 first responder program and the creation of a biometric entry-exit program, which would track the arrival and departure of foreign visitors to the United States.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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