Additional Fees No Longer Required of Certain H1B and L1 Employers

Last month, the additional filing fees required of certain H-1B and L-1 dependent employers are no longer required as of October 1, 2015. Prior to the expiration of this requirement, mandated by Public Law 111-347, passed January 2, 2011, a mandatory fee of $2,000 was required of certain H-1B employers and a $2,500 fee of certain L-1 employers.

These additional fees were implemented five years ago, ostensibly to help pay for costs associated with strengthening coverage of the US-Mexico border, such as additional service personnel and equipment. The fees were originally set to expire in 2014 but were extended for one year.

The IT sector, largely from India, praised the move of the United States Government to remove what they classed as a “discriminatory” fee to address an immigration issue that had nothing to do with them. The US has received nearly $375 million in these additional fees required of H-1B and L-1 employers from the Indian IT industry alone. The Indian IT Industry also suggested they provide significant support to the United States economy by supporting more than 410,000 jobs and paying more than $20 billion in taxes between 2011 and 2015.

However, from the side of US workers, there are claims of discriminatory practices by companies to get rid of US workers and replace them with IT workers from India. In one case, Hewlett-Packard has moved to eliminate upwards of 80,000 jobs presently filled by US workers amongst discriminatory claims that the positions will be filled by Indian foreign nationals. For the four-year period between 2011 and 2014, Hewlett-Packard has filed 2,668 labor condition applications for H1-B visas and was ranked 30th among all visa sponsors.

In another call of discrimination, Disney World in Florida is facing a number of federal and state discrimination administrative complaints following their layoff of United States workers.  The complainants argue they were terminated because they are American citizens, and all their replacements are Indian foreign nationals.

It is estimated that the such US employees were paid salaries in the $100,000 range, while their foreign replacements received about $60,000, making the $2,000 to $2,500 additional fee a nonissue for employers.

Although the US government has ultimate control over this recent change, controversy still remains over whether the fee is more beneficial to H-1B and L-1 employers or more harmful to US workers and their job security.

UPDATE: The $2,000 fee that had expired October 1 may return in an effort to fund health screenings and treatment for 9/11 workers. Read the full article here.

Information about H1B and L1 visa filing fees for petitioners can be found on the USCIS website: H and L Fees for Form I-129.