Several media sources, and employers across the nation, were surprised when the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a non-partisan research group, released aggregated data from the last two decades of H-1B filings. Since Fiscal Year 1999, H-1B fees payed by employers totaled nearly $5 billion. The report, released early April, highlights many of ways in which the H-1B financially supports government programming for the benefit of native workers. Although non-partisan in nature, the report does mention and critique the recent immigration changes made during the Trump Administration. In particular, the report assesses the potential consequences of the Trump Administration’s proposal to double H-1B fees.
Employers seeking to hire high-skilled foreign nationals through the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program must pay a training and scholarship fee to the amount of $1,500. While the Trump administration has considered increasing these fees, the study claims that employers of H-1B holders have funded nearly 90,000 scholarships since its start in Fiscal Year 1999. With these funds over one million student and teacher recipients gained monetary funding for science, technology, engineering and math fields; these funds in the 20 year time span totaled $1.94 billion. H-1B fees paid by employers additionally granted around 2.5 billion dollars’ worth of technology training for US workers. Excluded from these estimates are the $1.6 billion worth of anti-fraud fees payed by employers.
The studynotes that, since Fiscal Year 2005, employers have paid nearly $1.6 billion to fund “audits and investigations against themselves.” While fees payed by employers have increased over the years, these increases have been matched with the expansion of the H-1B program. However, the report argues that the FY2020 increase in H-1B fees proposed by the Trump administration would unfairly burden employers. While there have been increases to fees in the past (outside of normal inflation adjustments), these increases have been met with increases to the H-1B cap. The proposal, which omits any expansion of the H-1B cap, could further deter employers and subsequently harm the scholarship program.