How Much Does It Cost to Sponsor a Work Visa [Fee Guide]

When sponsoring a foreign worker for a U.S. work visa, employers must be prepared to navigate a complex landscape of costs and fees. From government filing fees to legal expenses and additional charges specific to each visa type, the financial aspects of visa sponsorship can be daunting.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the various costs associated with sponsoring a work visa, including H-1B and L-1 visas. We’ll explore the responsibilities and obligations of employers, as well as additional expenses related to employee relocation and settlement support.

Overview of Work Visa Sponsorship Costs

Sponsoring a work visa in the United States entails various expenses that an employer must be prepared to manage. The costs are usually categorized as government filing fees, legal expenses, and sometimes additional costs specific to visa types.

Below is a brief overview of these costs, which vary depending on the specific work visa being sponsored.

Note that while the sponsoring employer is responsible for many of the fees (such as business expenses for securing the visa if these costs lower the H-1B wage below the required level), the foreign worker may be responsible for some fees for certain visas (for example, an H-4 application for spousal status to an H-1B beneficiary).

Government Filing Fees:

  • Petition Fee: Typically, a base fee is required for the nonimmigrant work visa petition, which is submitted to USCIS.
  • Application Fee: Most applicants need to pay an application fee of $200-300 when applying for a new visa stamp abroad, which grants entry into the United States. This fee is dependent on the foreign national’s country of origin whether the consulate at which they apply has “reciprocity” with the US.

Legal Fees: Employers may also need legal assistance to navigate the complex immigration system, which adds to the cost in the form of attorney’s fees. Fees vary based on the attorney’s experience and the specific services provided.

Additional Costs: Some visa categories may incur extra charges, such as the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act fees, which range from $750 to $1,500 based on the size of the company sponsoring the visa.

A Breakdown of Common Costs:

Expense Category

Typical Cost Range

Petition Fee

$780 to $1,385

Application Fee

$200 to $300


$750 – $1,500

Legal Fees


The actual costs can differ based on the type of visa, the size of the petitioning company, and the circumstances of the sponsored employee.

For a detailed and up-to-date explanation of the visa sponsorship costs, employers should refer to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidelines and consult an immigration attorney.

Government Processing Fees

Employers must budget for mandatory government processing fees (also called “filing fees”) when sponsoring a work visa. These fees vary based on visa type, but they are essential for application processing and approval, since USCIS is largely a fee-funded agency.

Application Fees

  • H-1B Visa: The basic filing fee for an H-1B visa petition is $460 or $780 for employers with more than 25 full-time equivalent employees, which the sponsor is responsible for paying. Additional costs include the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) fee, which ranges from $750 to $1,500, depending on the size of the company.
  • Other Nonimmigrant Visas: The general application fee for other nonimmigrant work visas is $190, with possible extra charges such as a biometrics fee of $85 depending on visa category and nationality.

Premium Processing Option

  • Expedited Service: Employers can opt for USCIS’s premium processing service, which guarantees processing within 15 calendar days. This service currently comes with a fee of $2,805.

Employers wishing for faster processing due to time-sensitive employment can consider this expedited option, however, it is not available for all visa categories.

Legal and Professional Fees

The process of sponsoring a work visa includes various legal and professional fees that the sponsoring entity is required to manage. These fees can vary widely but are essential to ensuring that the visa application complies with all relevant laws and regulations.

Legal Services

Legal services are a critical component of the work visa sponsorship process.

Typically, employers are responsible for all legal costs associated with the sponsorship, which include legal advice, preparation, and submission of necessary immigration documents. Legal fees can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the complexity of the case.

Documentation Handling

Handling documentation is another area where professional fees are incurred.

The preparation of the PERM application, if required, and Form I-140 incurs costs for the sponsoring employer, which cover the meticulous gathering, preparation, and filing of necessary paperwork.

This may involve not only direct filing fees but also additional charges for services like premium processing, which expedites the review of certain applications for a fee of $2,500. Consular processing can also add a $325 fee for the DS-260 form plus a $120 sponsorship fee.

Employer Responsibilities and Financial Obligations

When an employer decides to sponsor a foreign national for a work visa, they assume several responsibilities and financial obligations. The process, while a pathway to bringing valuable talent to the U.S., comes with costs that are primarily the employer’s responsibility.

Immediate Costs:

  • Petition Fee: The employer must pay a petition fee, which is standard for the visa being sought. For instance, an H-1B visa has a base petition fee of $460.
  • Premium Processing (Optional): For expedited processing, employers can pay an additional fee of $2,500.

Additional Costs That May Apply:

  • The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act charges, which range from $750 to $1,500, depending on the size of the company.
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: $500
  • Public Law 114-113 Fee: $4,000 for certain H-1B visa petitions
  • Fees Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, like a biometrics fee (if applicable)

Employers are also responsible for the cost related to the Permanent Labor Certification process, known as PERM, required for some employment-based green card sponsorships.

Understanding the distinction in responsibilities:

  • The employer cannot pass certain costs to the employee, like the PERM process expenses.
  • Other costs, such as attorney fees, may be shared or negotiated as part of the employment contract.

Employers need to stay informed about the latest fee changes, like the increase in the USCIS application fee from $700 to $715 effective April 1, 2024. Compliance with these financial responsibilities ensures that the sponsorship process is conducted within legal parameters and helps maintain the integrity of the immigration system.

Additional Costs for Sponsoring Employees

The process of sponsoring an employee for a work visa involves considerations beyond government and legal fees. Employers typically also bear responsibility for various other expenses related to relocating and settling the employee in the new country.

Relocation Expenses

When an employer sponsors an employee’s work visa, they often need to cover relocation expenses to facilitate the move from the employee’s home country. These expenses can include:

  • Travel: Flights and other transportation costs for the employee and, potentially, their family.
  • Moving: Fees associated with moving personal belongings, which may involve shipping costs or storage fees.

Settlement Support

In addition to the physical move, there is also settlement support, which refers to:

  • Housing Assistance: Short-term accommodation upon arrival or assistance with securing a long-term lease.
  • Cultural Training: Programs to help the employee and their family acclimate to the new culture and social practices.

Cost Variations by Visa Type

The cost of sponsoring a work visa in the United States can vary significantly depending on the type of visa. Each category has a distinct set of fees associated with the sponsorship process.

H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is tailored for specialty occupations. Employers must pay several mandatory fees when sponsoring an H-1B visa, which can include:

  • Petition fee: $460
  • Fraud prevention and detection fee: $500
  • Employers with 50 or more employees, where more than 50% of employees are on a H-1B or L visa, must also pay:
    • American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act fee: Varies from $750 to $1,500 based on company size

Some costs may be passed on to the employee, but regulations restrict this for certain fees. For detailed fee structures, employers and potential visa candidates should refer to the basic guide to US work visa sponsorship.

L-1 Visa

The L-1 visa allows multinational companies to transfer employees to a U.S. branch. The costs include:

  • Petition filing fee: Typically $460
  • Fraud prevention and detection fee: $500 (for new companies)

Unlike the H-1B visa, the L-1 does not carry additional fees such as the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act charges. However, if the employer utilizes premium processing, an additional fee of $2,500 may apply to expedite the processing.

Sponsoring a work visa in the United States involves a significant financial investment for employers. From government filing fees and legal expenses to relocation costs and settlement support, the expenses can add up quickly.

If you have questions about the costs of sponsoring a work visa or need assistance with the process, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help. Schedule a consultation today by clicking here, and let us guide you through the complexities of visa sponsorship.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a company sponsor someone for a work visa?

A company can sponsor a work visa applicant by filing a petition with the relevant immigration authorities.

They must first obtain a labor certification and then file Form I-129 or its equivalent, proving that they are unable to find a suitable U.S. candidate for the job and that hiring a foreign worker will not negatively affect U.S. workers.

What expenses are involved in green card (Form I-485 or lawful permanent resident “LPR”) sponsorship for employers?

Employers looking to sponsor a Green Card must pay for the PERM Labor Certification process, which includes recruitment costs and attorney fees, which can be significant.

The filing fee for the I-140 immigration petition is $700, and there could be additional costs for adjustment of status if the employee is in the United States.

Is it possible for an individual to sponsor a work visa, and if so, what costs are associated?

An individual cannot sponsor a work visa in the traditional sense, as sponsorship is typically tied to employment and performed by a company. However, individuals can sponsor visas for relatives or for fiancés on a different set of criteria and costs.

Are there specific visas for unskilled jobs that include sponsorship in the USA, and what do they cost?

For unskilled job sponsorship in the United States, visas like the H-2B can be used. Costs are similar to H-1B visas with filing fees and attorney fees.

Specific fees are subject to change and can be confirmed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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Zachary Strebeck

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