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Getting Your Chaotic Immigration Spending Under Control

Bridge Team Member

By understanding historical immigration costs, you can set a foundation for forecasting future expenses.

Though international hiring is turning into a regular component of your talent acquisition program, you don’t have full visibility into your immigration costs. Once you have paid legal and application fees for one international employee, you follow a similar process for the next, without reviewing costs or possible opportunities for future savings. As a result, budgeting and forecasting immigration costs during the hiring process is close to impossible.

When your processes for immigration spending are chaotic and vary from candidate to candidate, it can be challenging to know where to start to make improvements. However, by building your understanding of the key levers of immigration costs and how your historical costs can help you forecast the future, you can begin to build a more consistent immigration process

The Effects of Chaotic Immigration Spending

Your talent acquisition teams rely on data to operate an effective talent model. For example, applicant tracking, time to hire, and other metrics deliver data to help recruiters understand the best ways to attract and source talent. However, when immigration spending is missing from your talent acquisition data, you can end up running an inefficient international hiring process and spending more than is necessary.

According to data compiled by Forbes, companies spend, on average, $3,400 to $16,560 in fees for an initial H-1B application. However, you could be spending much more than that if you don’t have an effective way of measuring your spending and anticipating future immigration costs.

If the only information you have about immigration spending is from a collection of past invoices, it’s likely your organization has encountered the following challenges when hiring international employees:

  • Difficulty anticipating legal costs associated with different visa types
  • Overspending on expedite fees that may not be necessary for each case
  • Underestimation of other immigration expenses, such as candidate travel and relocation costs

How to Overcome Your Immigration Spending Challenges

Understanding your immigration spending is key in helping you to plan and manage future expenses. With better data to help you better project your cost to hire international employees, you can create realistic budgets and cut down on spending surprises down the road. 

To build more visibility into your immigration spend, take the following actions:


Understand the different types of immigration expenses

Though every international hire is different, there are categories of immigration expenses you are likely to encounter for each. For example, attorney fees and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) filing fees are mainstays of every visa application. Those fees can include the following:

  • USCIS Premium Processing Fee
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee
  • Country-specific Consular Processing Fee (for individuals based outside the U.S. during the visa application process)

In addition to visa processing fees, there are also likely to be expenses associated with travel and relocation of the employee and their dependents. And, if your immigration policy offers employees an opportunity for green card sponsorship, you will also need to figure in those costs. Understanding the variability of these expenses for each hire can help you understand and manage the total cost of immigration.


Calculate annual spending targets based on historical spending

Though it may be somewhat painful to pull information from past immigration-related invoices, it is an essential exercise for understanding the components of immigration spending in your organization. 

Thankfully, you only need to retrieve and organize your historical spending data once. From there, you will gain clarity of your spending on each international hire in the last year, and you can focus on forecasting your spending for future years. 

When you collect and review your historical immigration spending data, be sure to look out for the following data points that can inform your forecast:

  • Variations in spending for initial visa applications vs. renewals
  • Differences in fees according to visa type, for example, L-1 vs. H-1B
  • Additional fees associated with responding to USCIS requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs)
  • Various ad-hoc attorney fees for extraneous case management services

Develop an annual immigration spending budget

With a new understanding of your historical immigration spending, you can develop a budget for subsequent years. Using your budget as your guide, you can make adjustments as you refine your immigration activities and discover cost-saving efficiencies.

When creating your budget, you can set spending estimates by calendar quarter, visa type, and fee type. As you incur immigration expenses, be sure to periodically compare actual spending to your forecast, and make budget changes accordingly. 

Moreover, as your immigration function grows in maturity and predictability, you may want to consider using immigration technology that allows you to visualize the levers that drive immigration spending and forecast with greater accuracy.

Improve Your Immigration Spending With Data

Like other areas of talent management, your talent acquisition function will run more optimally with better data. Using historical spending information to create a budget for immigration spending is the first step toward transforming a chaotic immigration function into one that will be more strategic. With data to drive better decisions about immigration spending, you can develop predictable immigration forecasts and avoid waste and overspending.


Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.

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