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Who pays the legal fees and costs for an H-1B petition?

Posted by Ann Badmus | Apr 06, 2014 | 0 Comments

In general, legal fees for H-1B visas start from $1500 to $2000, depending upon the expertise, experience, and location of the attorney.  The government application fees depend upon the size and type of employer.

Currently, an employer with more than 25 employees will likely pay $2325.  An employer with 25 or fewer employees will likely pay $1575 of which $750.  Application fees for petitions filed by post-secondary schools and non-profit organizations affiliated with post-secondary schools are lower, currently at $825.

Also, for payment of an additional “premium processing” fee of $1225, the government guarantees processing of the H-1B petition within 15 days of application acceptance.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL)  and USCIS,  the H-1B employee's payment of any part of the petition filing fee is illegal.  However, the optional 15-day premium processing can be paid by either employer or employee,  depending on the circumstances.

If premium processing is needed for the employer's benefit, e.g. to guarantee a certain employment start date, the employer must pay this expense. If the employee needs premium processing for his or her own benefit, e.g. to renew his driver's license or travel on vacation,  then the employee may pay for premium processing.

In addition, the employee cannot pay  employer's business expenses associated with the H-1B petition, which can include attorneys fee for preparation and filing the H-1B petition in most cases.

And, if the employee terminates employment, the employer cannot require repayment of any of the costs associated with the H-1B petition.

The DOL can and has penalized employers for passing on H-1B costs to the employee.  To avoid fines and negative publicity, H-1B employers should pay all costs without reimbursement from the employee.

The information provided in this article is intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process for foreign physicians, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. You should not act or rely upon the information in this article without first seeking the advice of an immigration attorney.

About the Author

Ann Badmus

Principal and Managing Attorney


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