South Asian Insider
Trump administration proposes to raise fees for H-1B visa
(By our Staff Reporter)- The Trump administration proposes to double a component of the filing fee for H-1Bs, a visa programme popular with Indians hoping to work and live in the United States, that could push up costs by $750 or $1,500 for each application, depending on the size of the employer company.
The proposed hike is for a fee US charges for each H-1B application to fund training programme for Americans for jobs currently been performed by foreign workers, specially in STEM sectors. It is currently $750 each for petitions filed by an employer with 25 or less full-time employees, and $1,500 for employers with 26 or more.
The plan is to double it to $1,500 and $3,000 respectively, through a legislation, which, typically, could take time.
Called the ACWAI fee - named after American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act, a 1998 law aimed at reducing the need for foreign workers - is 13% of the total H-1B fee. The rest are $460 basic fee, $500 anti-fraud fee, $4,000 fee for employers that have more than 50 workers with half or more of them on H-1B or L-1 (for intra-company transfers). For premium 15-day processing, which is optional, the fee is $ 1,410. Employers pay these charges. There is no proposal to change these other charges.
"In FY (financial year) 2020, the Department's budget includes $160 million to continue our expansion of apprenticeship programs, along with a proposal to increase H-1B fee revenues to fund additional apprenticeship activities," secretary of labor Alexander Acosta told US lawmakers at a congressional hearing last week on his department's budgetary request for 2020.
Though he gave no details, his department's budget, as proposed in the Trump administration's omnibus budget for 2020 released earlier, did. "The 2020 Budget includes a legislative proposal to double the ACWIA fee for the H-1B visa program (to $3,000 per worker for large employers and $1,500 for small employers) to prepare American workers for jobs currently filled by foreign workers, especially in STEM fields," it had said.
The H-1B programme allows US-based companies to employ foreign workers for high speciality jobs on temporary non-immigrant visas. There is an annual cap of 85,000 on the number of these visas, more than 70% of which have gone to Indian, hired both by US companies such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google and US-branches of Indian companies such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS.
It has received intense scrutiny under the Trump administration, drawing from the president's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order from 2017. The number of rejections has gone up, and so have requests for more information, and enforcement to prevent abuse and fraud.
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