No hike in H-1B visa fee for next year, says US

Washington: The US government has clarified that there will be no hike in fee for H-1B work visa for professionals next year. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had on Wednesday in a press release detailed application procedure for H-1B visa for fiscal year 2013 which was wrongly interpreted as hike in visa fee.

Subsequently, USCIS as well as Indian IT industry body Nasscom have clarified that there is no hike in the visa fee. The US immigration agency announced yesterday that applications for the most sought after H-1B work visa ? used extensively by Indian IT professionals ? for the fiscal year 2013 would be accepted from April 2. The congressionally mandated numerical limitation on H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2013 is 65,000, as has been in the previous year. Additionally, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals who have earned a US master`s degree or higher are exempt from the fiscal year cap.

The USCIS said H-1B applications will be considered accepted on the date it takes possession of a properly filed petition with correct fee and not the date on which it was sent. "If the number of applications received exceeds the numerical cap, USCIS will randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the numerical limit from the pool of petitions received on the final receipt date," USCIS said in a statement, adding that it will reject cap-subject petitions that are not selected, as well as those received after the final receipt date.

Petitions for new H-1B employment are exempt from the annual cap if the beneficiaries will work at institutions of higher education or related or affiliated non-profit entities, non-profit research organisations or governmental research organisations, USCIS said. The department also listed out the details of fees to be filed by the applicants for H-1B visas, which starts from a base fee of USD 325 for fiscal year 2013.

It is charging USD 750 for employers with 1 to 25 full-time equivalent employees, and USD 1,500 for employers with 26 or more full-time equivalent employees. There is another USD 500 listed as fraud prevention and detection fee. A fee of USD 2,000 is to be paid by the petitioner who employs 50 or more employees in the US – where more than 50 per cent of its workers in the US are in H-1B or L-1 non-immigrant status.