A piece of good news for those of us who think the H-1B program is over-used and displaces American workers: Starting in October one set of major users of the program will have to pay substantially higher fees when they want to extend the visas of H-1B and L workers currently on their payrolls, according to the San Jose Mercury-News.
This will raise $200 million a year for a fee-starved USCIS.
More importantly, it will serve as a price to be paid by these employers, one that may cause some of them — maybe — to rethink their policies of heavily relying on the two foreign worker programs.
The new fee structure — and this has happened before — will directly impact the big Indian outsourcing companies, Infosys, Tata, and the like, more than it will the big "solutions companies" like Microsoft, Facebook, and IBM.
This is the case because all of these two classes of foreign workers, when hired by the so-called "50/50" companies will be subject to the renewal fees; these are firms, like the outsourcers, with 50 or more workers and with 50 percent or more of them in the H-1B and L-1 categories. The big Silicon Valley firms (such as Microsoft) will not pay the new fees for their direct hires, but will do so for those they retain via the outsourcers.
Of the two programs, the larger one is the H-1B visa for college grad workers; the L program, is for foreign workers with professional skills, once employed overseas by multi-national corporations, who are subsequently transferred to this country. The new fee will be $4,000 for H-1B extensions and $4,500 for L extensions. Most H-1B workers are not newcomers, they are working on extended visas.
While a $4,000 or a $4,500 fee is substantial, it is dwarfed by the savings that the outsourcers will get by continuing to employ the foreign workers.