Managing the costs of hiring foreign workers

A human resources person calculates immigration costs

Hiring foreign workers for your organization can be costly, with the average cost per hire exceeding $4,000, according to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management. When considering hiring foreign nationals for your workforce who require immigration sponsorship, costs can increase and questions often arise as to who should bear these expenses. Read on to learn about the intricacies of immigration costs when hiring foreign workers, both for temporary visas and immigrant visas.

Visa fees

Non-immigrant petitions

  1. Legal fees: The process begins with legal fees. Immigration lawyers play a key role in navigating the complexity of nonimmigrant visa applications. Companies can expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 per request, depending on the complexity of the case.
  2. Filing fees: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fees filing fees for non-immigrant visa applications. For the H-1B visastandard filing fee is around $460, with an additional $460500 fraud prevention costs. Businesses with a certain number of H-1B workers may also face additional fees ranging from $4,000 to $4,500.
  3. Premium processing: To speed up processing, businesses can opt for premium processing at a cost of $2,500. This ensures a faster response from USCIS but does not guarantee visa approval.
  4. ACWIA Fees: Employers with H-1B workers must pay American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) fees, which vary depending on the size and circumstances of the business. These fees can range from $750 to $1,500.
  5. Visa renewal costs: Visa extensions incur additional legal and filing fees.

Immigrant petitions

  1. Legal fees: Immigrant petitions in EB categories require extensive legal assistance. Businesses may incur legal fees ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the case.
  2. Certification of work: THE PERMED The labor certification process may result in additional costs, including advertising and recruiting expenses, totaling up to $3,000.
  3. I-140 Filing Fee: THE Form I-140 The filing fee (“Immigration Petition for a Foreign Worker”) is $700.
  4. I-485 Status Fee Adjustment: For employees already in the United States, the I-485 (“Application for Adjustment of Status”) costs $1,225, which includes the biometrics fee.
  5. Consular processing fees: If the foreign worker is abroad, consular processing adds additional fees, such as DS-260 filing fees and medical examination fees.
  6. Premium processing: Some companies opt for premium processing for I-140 petitions, which costs an additional $2,500. This speeds up processing but does not guarantee approval.

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Navigating Payment Responsibility

The responsibility for covering these costs depends on various factors, including the specific visa category, whether it is an initial or renewal application, and whether expedited processing is requested. Some fees and expenses, such as ACWIA fees, must be paid by the employer and cannot be negotiated with the employee.

Although some costs may be shared between the employer and employee, employers should be cautious about reducing an employee’s salary below the required prevailing wage, which could have unintended consequences.

Petitions for non-immigrants (temporary)

  • Form I-129 (“Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers”) carries a base filing fee of $460, which can be paid by either the employer or the beneficiary.
  • Premium processing fees and attorney fees are also negotiable.
  • The fraud prevention and detection fee ($500 or $150 for H-2B) and ACWIA fee ($750 or $1,500) must be fully covered by the employer.

Immigrant Petitions (Permanent)

  • Employers must bear all costs associated with submitting the PERM labor certification.
  • I-140 and I-485 fees can be split between the employer and employee without penalties.
  • The visa application fee for consular processing may be paid by either party.

The essential

Hiring foreign workers can greatly enrich your organization, but it is essential to understand and budget for the associated costs. Employers must carefully manage their payment responsibilities and ensure they comply with legal requirements. By working with immigration attorneys, companies can attract top international talent while complying with U.S. immigration laws. Although the costs may seem significant, they represent only a fraction of the value that talented foreign workers can bring to your organization.

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