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News: Changes to H-1B and L-1 Visa Programs

Changes to H-1B and L-1 Visa Programs
On November 20, 2004, Congress passed legislation making substantial changes to the H-1B and L-1 visa programs as part of its budget bill. President Bush is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk shortly.

The most significant change regarding H-1Bs is the exemption of up to 20,000 graduates of U.S. graduate degree programs each year from the H-1B cap. Another change will be the return of the worker retraining fee that applied in H-1B cases until last year. That fee is going up to $1,500.00 although small businesses will only have to pay $750.00; also all H-1B applications will now have to include an additional $500.00 fee allocated for fraud prevention and detection.

For L-1 visas, the controversial practice of L-1 employees being subcontracted to third party businesses is being outlawed and the law which allows L-1 blanket petition beneficiaries to only work for six months is being changed to require one year of continuous employment.

Once President Bush has signed the bill into law and as details emerge regarding these changes, I will provide updates.



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