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Fee Increases for H-1B and L-1 A and B Visas

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, a.k.a. the Omnibus Bill, which increased the H-1B visa fee by $4,000 and the L-1 fee by $4,500.  The last increase of $2,000 was passed in 2010, and expired late last year on September 30, 2015.  With these increases, Congress is looking to better fund border protection and other systems associated with tracking foreign nationals, such as the biometric entry and exit tracking system.  According to CNBC, the fee increases will raise more than a $1 billion per year.

The act will apply to all the H-1B, L-1A, and L-1B petitions filed on or December 18, 2015 through September 30, 2025.  The new fees apply to businesses meeting two specific criteria: 50 or more employees and at least 50 percent of the business’ employees are non-immigrant workers.  The fee increases apply to both new petitions and transfer petitions.  They will not apply to same-employer extensions.

An H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that temporarily allows U.S. employers to hire foreign individuals if their occupation is considered a “specialty occupation.”  Some of the specialty occupations fall under the fields of mathematics, social sciences, medicine, engineering, architecture, natural sciences, law, education, accounting, business, and other areas deemed to be appropriate.  The employee must hold a Bachelor’s Degree, or its equivalent, with a single exception for fashion models. 

The L-1 visa categories are also non-immigrant visas that allows an individual to enter the U.S. with an employment purpose.  Depending on the reciprocity schedule which is determined by the country a petitioner is from, the employee may stay for the set period of time with the maximum stay period of seven years.  The L-1 visas are for employees of international companies which also have locations in the United States.  L-1 visa, as compared with the H-1B visa, is more of a relocation visa because the employee must have already worked for the company in the foreign state for a continuous year within the three years preceding entry into the U.S.  The L-1 visa holder must also work for the U.S. branch of the same company.  The L-1 visa is broken into L-1A, for executives and manager-level employees, and L-1B for other workers.

If you are seeking help on immigration matters or petitions for H-1B or L-1 visas, call the experienced attorneys at Bretz & Coven, LLP at (212) 267-2555.

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