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US hikes H-1B visa fee, move to hit Indian IT cos

Last updated on: March 28, 2012 14:02 IST

US hikes H-1B visa fee, move to hit Indian IT cos

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Lalit K Jha in Washington

In a move that is expected to hit Indian IT companies, the US government has decided to hike H-1B visa fee from next fiscal.

In a statement, USCIS listed out the details of the fees to be filed by the applicants for H-1B visas, which starts from a base fee of $325 to $2,000 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.

This year, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is charging $750 for employers with 1 to 25 full-time equivalent employees, and $1,500 for employers with 26 or more full-time equivalent employees.

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There is another $500 listed as fraud prevention and detection fee. And employers seeking premium processing service, in which application is processed within 15 days, need to submit an additional $1,225, it said.

India's software and services companies earn around 60 per cent of their revenues from the US and employ a large number of professionals here.

USCIS also said that applications for the most sought after H-1B work visa – used extensively by Indian IT professionals – for the fiscal beginning October 1, would be accepted beginning 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 years.

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Tags: H-1B , USCIS , US , India

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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.

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, adding that it will reject cap-subject petitions that are not selected, as well as those received after the final receipt date.

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Tags: USCIS , H-1B , US

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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.

Petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who will work only in Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are exempt from the cap until December 31, 2014.

Employers may continue to file petitions for these cap-exempt H-1B categories seeking work dates starting in FY 2012, it said.

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USCIS said that up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the cap of 65,000 during each fiscal year for the H-1B1 programme under the terms of the legislation implementing the US-Chile and US-Singapore Free Trade Agreements.

Unused numbers in this pool are made available for H-1B use for the next fiscal year.

The federal agency cautioned applicants from filing duplicate applications. To ensure fair and orderly distribution of available H-1B visas, USCIS will deny or revoke multiple or duplicative petitions filed by an employer for the same H-1B worker and will not refund the filing fees submitted with multiple or duplicative petitions, it said.



Image: Reuters.


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