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Business Costs of Hiring an Immigrant

What are business costs associated with hiring immigrants? H1B Affiliated Costs1

  1. $325 USCIS petition filing fee;
  2. $1,500 ACWIA training fee;
  3. $500 fraud prevention and detection fee;
  4. Optional: The Premium Processing Fee $1,225.

1. In 2001, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) enacted regulations making premium processing available for H-1B applications. An employer is not responsible for the $1,225 filing fee and any other fees associated with premium processing if the employee is the party requesting and benefiting from the premium processing. If the employer chooses to request premium processing for its benefit, then the costs must be borne by the employer.2

  1. An H-1B Visa (or H-1B transfer) will cost you around $5000 (including government

fees). Immigration lawyer fees should costs $2000 to $3000, while filing fees are around $3000. An employer must have enough money in the bank necessary to pay the H1B employee’s salary for a reasonable period of time. The analysis is on a case by case basis.3

The costs businesses are willing to pay for immigrant employees.4

“Employers in the U.S. that hire workers from abroad can spend more than three times what they do for domestic hires, while it can take six times longer to bring a foreign worker on board than a native worker, new research shows.”

  1. “Three-fourths of 239 respondent employers with 2,500 or more employees said that obtaining work visas for foreign talent in a timely manner was “critical” to achieving business objectives.”
  2. “Employment-based immigration requires careful planning and should not be considered a minor addition to the hiring process,” said Lynn Shotwell, executive director of CFGI. “Hiring foreign nationals takes time, is often expensive, and requires a major investment of time from staff in human resources, legal and global mobility offices.”


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  1. According to SHRM research, it typically takes 42 days to fill a professional position, from when an employer opens a job requisition until a candidate accepts an offer. But when a new employee needs a visa, preparing the necessary documents and obtaining immigration benefits can substantially delay the hiring process. The total time needed to hire an employee through the U.S. immigration system can be six times longer than the length of the typical hiring process, according to CFGI.”
  2. “Organizations deal with a litany of challenges when sponsoring foreign workers both for temporary visas such as the H-1B and permanent resident EB visas. Those challenges can include long processing times, limited visa availability and disagreements over prevailing wage determinations.”
  3. “It takes an average of 120 days to have a labor certification application processed at the Department of Labor (DOL) for foreign workers sponsored for green cards. After getting the labor certification approval, employers must then submit a petition for processing to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which takes on average another 120 days for most workers. The average total hiring time for a first-time H-1B professional is 275 days.”

“The CFGI research found several examples of employer dissatisfaction with the business immigration system, including:

  1. Only 30 percent said that DOL processing times were reasonable.
  2. Less than that, 24 percent, said that USCIS processing times were reasonable. H-1B extension processing times often approach the 240-day mark, which puts employees’ work authorization in peril.
  3. Only 23 percent of respondents agreed that DOL prevailing wage determinations were consistent.
  4. Only 28 percent agreed that prevailing wage decisions were accurate.
  5. 35 percent of respondents whose organizations are subject to the annual H-1B cap (85,000 visas) reported that they have lost key high-potential employees because visas weren’t available under the cap.
  6. Just 39 percent agreed that USCIS decisions were consistent from case to case.
  7. Only 23 percent of respondents agreed that USCIS requests for evidence (RFE) generally ask for necessary information that has not been provided in the initial petition. RFEs add lengthy delays to the process of hiring a foreign worker, and RFE rates for H-1B and L-1 visas range from 23 percent to 55 percent of cases filed, depending on the visa category and the service center where the cases are processed.”
  8. Employers responding to the survey had, on average, three employees working full time and another 10 working part time to complete immigration processes. Most organizations (74 percent) house this function in their human resources department. In addition to the cost of in-house staff, employers pay government fees and often solicit the services of third parties to handle or assist with the process.
  9. First-time H-1Bs typically cost an additional $3,460 to $11,675 in immigration filing fees and legal fees, on top of the $3,424 average cost to hire a U.S. worker, according to the survey.”

Businesses need immigrants.

“Kurt Bauer, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business lobby, is one of those ringing the demographic bell. “We need to retain every born-and-raised Wisconsinite we can,” he said. “We need to get as many of the 29% who are of working age but not currently in the workforce off the sidelines. We need to draw in out-of-staters, including Illinoisans, Iowans and Minnesotans. And we also need legal immigration at really all skill levels. Of course, we need Washington’s help to make that happen.”

In Wisconsin, the foreign-born labor force grew to about 175,000, up 16% from 2009 to 2016, according to census statistics compiled by Rob Paral, a fellow with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Wisconsin’s civilian labor force would have declined slightly if not for an influx of immigrants over that period, an experience mirrored across the Midwest. “If you’re not an ideologue, you’d have to say we need more legal immigration,” Paral said.”