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understanding work visa sponsorship costs

As discussed in our prior blog post on visa processing time, there are several categories of conditional permissions to enter into the United States. Some are easier to obtain than others with conditions which vary greatly dependent upon several things. Major factors which direct the preliminary decision of which visa to apply for include: the reason you are coming to the United States, how long you intend to stay, and your relationship to the individual or entity vouching for your arrival.

Entering into the United States for the purposes of working is generally limited to those who do not, at the time of their application, have a specific intent to remain in the United States outside of their employment agreement. Similar to immigrant visas however, an employer sponsoring a work visa can have an impact on your visa processing. Namely, it changes the employer visa sponsorship costs.


*Chart provided by USCIS

H-1B classification allows foreign nationals to accept certain assignments with Department of Labor (DOL) approved U.S. employers. H-1B visas are limited to 65,000 annually and require a professional assignment for which the applicant qualifies. Additionally there must be no labor dispute in progress at the worksite – which then often calls for union approval of the position. H-1B Visas are also extendable to a maximum of six years.

For an H-1B level of employer-sponsor categorizations, there is a division between employers by the size of the existing business. Per the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act, employers with more than 25 full-time employees are required to pay $1,500. Per this same provision, employers with fewer than 25 full-time employees are able to pay just half that. This Act was meant as a means to protect citizen workers by deterring large businesses from seeking foreign labor, and by similarly deterring foreign labor seekers. However, where it is a deterrence for large businesses, it may actually be a source of opportunity for smaller ones.

The chart goes on to include:


Here, we see again, that large business entities (of 50 employees are more) are further deterred by the heightened employer visa sponsorship cost of $4,000. In addition to the sponsorship processing fee, we see that there is an additional $500 fee for protection. That being said, a small business would have only, thus far incurred $1,250 in sponsorship fees.

Lastly, H-2B visas have the most permissive sponsorship fees, amounting to only $150. However, that classification is only reserved for the list of 84 specifically named nations.

Notably, two nations, from which we get the most immigration applications make the list of 84: Mexico and The Philippines. The applications are also limited (66,000 annually), but do not require professional position classification – they only require that the position be non-agricultural.

That being said, small business entrepreneurs seeking a assistance for H-2B eligible positions have recently[1]found themselves with a much larger applicant pool. Sponsoring a work visa in this way has shown itself to be an incredible option to grow small businesses while allowing incredible opportunities for foreign workers.

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[1] 16 nations were just added to the H-2B eligible list as of January 2016

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