Professionals who are applying for the H-1B work visa next year have been concerned that the fees for the visa will increase, but the US government has told the media that this is not the case. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a press release, outlining the application process for the H-1B work visa for 2013. Some misinterpreted the press release to mean that there is a planned increase in the fee for the H-1B visa. This led to some concern from Indian IT professionals, especially, as these professionals rely on the visa to work in the US. However, both Nasscom (an IT industry organization in India) and the USCIS have told the media that there will be no fee hike for the visa.
The USCIS also clarified that applicants for H-1B work visa would be accepted from April 2 for the 2013 fiscal year. For 2013, the Congressional limit on H-1B visas is 65, 000. This is the same number of H-1B visas that Congress approved for fiscal year 2012. As well, the first 20,000 H-1B visa applicants filed for individuals who have at least a US master’s degree are not included in the cap. If the beneficiaries of a new H-1B visa already work for certain non-profit groups, governmental research organizations, or higher education institutions, they may be exempt from the cap as well.
H-1B visa applications are considered accepted or filed by the US on the date when the correctly filed application and the fee are received. The date on which the application is filed or sent is not necessarily the same date. If there are more applications that can be accepted under the numerical cap, the USCIS will randomly select the right number of petitions from the applications filed. Those not selected and those who submit after the final due date will not be given a visa.
For fiscal year 2013, the fees for H-1B visa applicants starts from $325. Employers who have between one and 25 full-time employees will pay $750 for an application while those with more than 26 employees will pay $1500. Employers with 50 or more employees will need to pay $2000 to file an H-1B visa. Applicants will also need to pay an additional $500 for fraud prevention and detection costs. These fees, as the USCIS has pointed out, are in line with the fees for fiscal year 2012.