How Much Is An H1B VISA?

"How much for an H1B?"

It’s been a while since my last blog post and for that I apologize. First off, happy new year! And what better way to kick off 2020 than a new H1B visa filing season!

I’ve discussed a lot of H1B issues in the past, and first usually refer newcomers to my blog post providing the big picture H1B process, and what it means to employers and foreign nationals. Please do read my H1B Primer.


Because I’m a solo practitioner, this is often the first question I get about the entire process.  It always feels strange to me, as if the time and expertise needed for immigration application is less if one uses a solo attorney.  More important, does the employee become less valuable depending on the price of the attorney? 

So when I’m posed with a question about fees right off the bat, I try to answer with another question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is the H1B’s approval?”  For foreign nationals who’ve just completed a bachelors or Masters degree or nearing the end of their OPT, their journey in the U.S. could be at an end without the H1. For them you’d think the answer would be 10!  As it happens, sometimes not. 

But let’s just say an H1B visa costs $3000, $5000, $10,000, or even $15,000, what fraction is this in the earning life-cycle of an IT worker or architect, for example? A mere pittance to make sure it's done the right way?

For the foreign national wishing for a life in the US, their legal life is the most critical consideration at least at first. Now, if the most critical consideration in your life was a medical issue, would you ask your doctor how much they cost right away or would you first consult a doctor to determine best options for your condition? 

Having said this, hiring a solo attorney does have its benefits. First, the value of the service goes up with more direct and frequent contact between the client and attorney.  Discussions can be more flexible and involve more strategy and consultation that meet the needs of a small or mid-size company.  A solo/small attorney also needn’t raise fees exorbitantly for a single, one-off application. But the expertise applied, and certainly the importance of approval to the foreign national or company, is no less. Just some food for thought.

Some law firms do have set fee schedules for various immigration processes, and even post them online. Much respect and I do not knock anyone for a business model that works for them. I have to think, however, that for matters that become complicated the level of service would not keep up, and attention to detail compromised. Also, many preset fee “menus” hide hidden fees that are applied in Requests for Evidence or when mater do get complicated for example.

Also, 9/10 times when a foreign national calls on behalf of their perspective employer who has never done an H1B before, the employer finds out how cumbersome the process can be and chooses not to proceed. 

So here’s what I do: As I mentioned above, when asked for my fee on an H1, I first suggest reading my H1B Primer, and also this one when it’s published.  Then, if the COMPANY is still interested, we set up a consultation to review their particular situation and needs.  It would be a paid consultation, because it is an individualized meeting.  If I’m retained for the H1B process this amount would be applied to the total fee. 

The reason is simple:  Learning more about the company and foreign national, and assessing any potential challenges, help me quote a more reasonable fee once I understand everything about the case, including company details and nature of the position for which you’re hiring, including background of the foreign national.  Here are some additional benefits of an immigration consultation, and when a consultation will NOT help.  Every case is different, and these factors all contribute to the challenge of any case. Otherwise my fee would have to be inflated to account for any potential unknowns and complications. 

OK I understand this is a lot of explanation for what many companies believe should be a simple quote from a vendor. I hope that from this discussion companies understand that one is getting more than a vendor but an advisor more like a doctor than a subcontractor.


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