First, you need to know that the sponsoring company is required to pay the H-1B fees.
Second, there are some important changes in 2016. Most significantly, if you’re an employer with 50 or more employees, and more than half of those employees are H-1B, L-1A or L-1B visas, your fees went up as of December 18, 2015, and you will be paying a $4,000 ‘special’ fee for new H-1Bs and transfers.
As an H-1B worker, you’re required to have a sponsoring employer. The transfer allows you (the worker) to have a new employer-sponsor. The new employer files an I-129 petition with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting that the H1B employee be transferred to the new company.
Here’s a breakdown of the fees:
- Standard/Base Filing Fee (also applicable to transfers, amendments and renewals): $325 (this is the I-129 petition).
- ACWIA (American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act) / Training Fee: Employers up to 25 full-time employees: $750; Employers with 26+ employees: $1,500 (some exemptions apply - e.g., educational and nonprofit entities).
- Fraud Prevention & Detection Fee (new & transfers): $500 (not applicable to extensions with same employer).
- ‘Special Fee’ Up to 50 Employees: If more than half are H-1B or L1 visa holders, there’s an additional fee of $2,000.
- Premium (Expedited) Processing: If you complete an I-907 plus submit a fee of $1,225 for expedited processing, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guarantees a 15-day turnaround.
- Attorneys’ Fees: Can range anywhere between roughly $1,500 to $10,000.
Employers are legally obligated to pay for all fees except the optional premium fee for expedited processing - unless it is for the employer’s benefit, in which case the company must pay the fee.
As you can see, an employer’s total cost can range wildly anywhere between $5,500 and $17,000 depending on the size of the company and other variables listed above. The cost to the employee should never be much more than $1,225 if they are paying for expedited processing.