On September 30, 2015, Public Law 111-230 sunset. Since 2010, this law has required additional filing fees of $2,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $2,250 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions. H-1B status is for nonimmigrants working temporarily in specialty occupations; L-1A status is for intracompany transferee managers and executives; and L-1B status is for intracompany transferees with specialized knowledge.
The PL 111-230 fee used to apply to companies with over 50 employees, at least 50% of whom were in H-1B, L-1A or L-1B status. The company had to pay this fee for any new H1-B or L petitions or for an H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant change employers to come work for them.
These fees no longer apply to any petitions filed on or after October 1, 2015. It is unclear whether and when Congress will reauthorize this law and if so, when the fees might go back into effect, or if the fees would increase. Currently, USCIS is accepting Form I-129 for H-1Bs and L-1 without this fee, even if the company has over 50 employees, 50% of whom are H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrants.
What this means: if you have a company with more than 50 employees and at least 50% of them are on H-1B or L-1 status, this is a great opportunity. Since it is not the H-1B cap-subject lottery season (which takes place next winter for applications for new H-1Bs to be filed starting on April 1, 2016), you could take advantage of hiring a current H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant either full-time with a change of employer, or by adding hiring him or her for part-time concurrent employment, without being subject to the PL 111-230 fee.
The current H-1B filing fees that remain, in the absence of the PL 111-230:
- The Form I-129 base fee is $325.
- If this H-1B is initial H-1B petition on behalf of a particular beneficiary, a change of status to H-1B or change of H-1B employer, or the first petition requesting an extension of H-1B stay by the same petitioner filing on behalf of the same beneficiary, it is subject to the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998. The ACWIA fee is $750 for corporations that have fewer than 25 employees, and $1,500 for corporations that have 25 or more employees. The ACWIA fee is not required for some simple amendments, second or later extensions, colleges, nonprofits, schools, and certain other employers.
- New H-1Bs and transfers to new employers, including new concurrent employment but not renewals or extensions, are subject to the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of $500.
- If you need fast turnaround, USCIS offers premium processing for an additional $1,225. They will adjudicate the petition in 15 days or refund this money.
The current L-1 filing fees that remain, in the absence of the PL 111-230:
- The Form I-129 base fee is $325.
- New L-1s and transfers to new employers, including new concurrent employment but not renewals or extensions, are subject to the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of $500. If you are filing a petition for a beneficiary to change status from L-1A to L-1B or from L-1B to L-1A, this fee isn’t required. It is only required for an employer seeking an initial L-1 for an individual.
There are even more details for the fees for Chileans, Singaporeans, and people returning to a job they had previously, so if any of these situations apply you should definitely consult with an attorney.
Congress could decide to reauthorize the PL 111-230 fee, but there doesn’t appear to be any movement on this right now. So, if you’re from a large company with a lot of H1-B and L employees and you are considering hiring a new employee currently in H1-B status and not subject to the cap, or in L-1 status, this could be a great opportunity for you to save $2,000 or more on the process.
Transferring from L-1A or L-1B status to H-1B status is essentially the same as getting an H-1B for the first time. Your employer will file an H-1B Petition for you, and you will be entered into the Visa Lottery in April.
You will need to provide the same documentation and information as any other H-1B applicant. The total time period you can stay in the US on an L Visa or H-1B and L-1 Visa is 5 years. However, as an H-1B, you employer can begin the Green Card process for you which will allow you to continue working in the US until your Green Card is approved.