President Trump’s proposed budget for 2020 would, if approved, significantly raise the cost of filing an H-1B. Currently, the application fees for filing an H-1B petition include a fee of $750 or $1,500, depending on the size of the petitioning employer. The president’s proposed budget doubles these fees: companies that employ 25 or fewer American workers would pay $1,500 per application, while those that employ more than 25 American workers would pay $3,000.
The current $750/$1,500 fees contribute to job training programs and scholarships under the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act. However, the Department of Labor and the White House have provided conflicting accounts of what the money generated through the increased fees would be used. The Department of Labor’s budget request indicates that the money will be used to “prepare American workers for jobs that are currently being filled by foreign workers, especially in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields.” Alexander Acosta, the Secretary of Labor, indicated that the funds would be used to support apprenticeship programs. However, the White House has indicated that fifteen percent of the money would be used to fund career and education grants at the state level.
It is important to keep in mind that this is just one proposal as part of a proposed budget and that budgets can sometimes go through revisions before being passed by congress. This is especially true considering the clashes between President Trump and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Regardless of whether or not the fee increase becomes reality, however, the proposal is a sign that the administration is unlikely to consider raising the number of new H-1B visas available each year.