Overview of H1-B Visa Application Process
1. An Employer Agrees to Employ a Foreign Worker and to Sponsor that Worker for an H1-B Visa.
So long as the employer meets certain minimum criteria, the employer can be an individual or a corporation. USCIS has recently given some helpful recent guidance as to what constitutes and employer/employee relationship that can be found by clicking here.
2. A Salary is Agreed that Meets Certain Criteria.
The US Government has a policy of preventing US employers from being able to lower their payroll costs by employing foreign workers who are willing to work for a lower wage. Accordingly, the government has placed procedures in place that ensure that a foreign worker is being paid the "prevailing wage" for the position they are undertaking. There are a number of different salary surveys can be used to determine what an appropriate wage for an employee is. A commonly used salary survey is published by the Department of Labor and can be found on their website.
3. File the Labor Certification Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor.
This step involves submission of a form to the Department of Labor who certify that the foreign worker will be paid a fair wage and that the foreign worker's employment will not adversely impact other employees. H1B sponsors must also attest that they will give the H1B visa holder the same medical and other benefits as their other employees.
4. The Department of Labor Will Return an Approved LCA for Submission with the H1-B Visa Application.
5. The Employer Meets Certain Internal Obligations.
The law requires the employer to undertake certain administrative steps, including the preparation of a "public access file" and the posting of key information about the position to be filled by the foreign worker.
6. The Filing of an H1-B Petition with USCIS.
Relevant forms, fees and documents are filed with the USCIS. A listing of the forms needed and the current fees can be found at the USCIS website by clicking here.
7. Premium Processing and Premium Processing.
The time taken for USCIS to adjudicate an application can vary. By paying an extra fee of approximately $1,000, which is subject to change, a determination can be received in a few weeks.
8. USCIS Issues a Receipt.
The petitioner (sponsoring company) is sent a receipt by the USCIS Service Centre which bears a 9 digit reference number pertaining only to that particular case, H1B processing times and general information about the petitioner and foreign worker. This is the petitioner’s first confirmation that the petition is in the adjudicating queue.
9. Notice of Approval, Denial or RFE.
USCIS will respond to the employer either approving or denying the application. If USCIS does not have enough information or the information submitted with the petition was incomplete then rather than issuing a denial USCIS may ask for specific additional information by issuing an Request For Evidence, or RFE.
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