How To Get an H-1B Visa

An H-1B Visa is a specific  non-immigrant visa that  allows employers to temporarily hire specific foreign employees in specialty occupations.   There are specific requirements for this visa which is beyond the scope of this article.  However, you should know that the person applying for an H-1b visa must have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of this degree. There are three specific steps to obtaining a H-1B Visa.

Step 1:
The first step of the process in obtaining a H-1B Visa can be up to a three-week waiting period. This initial step consists of first confirming that the position of the employee the company is trying to obtain an H-1B Visa for is a specialty occupation, and that the employee has the correct degree or certificate to legally engage in the specific specialty occupation. After confirming this information, the company will then need to get the PWD or Prevailing Wage Determination for the position. This information is readily available through the online wage library. Companies are also able to the PWD information by submitting a request to the National Prevailing Wage Center.

Step 2:
The second step consists of the company filing a Labor Certification Application (LCA). The LCA is an application that includes the information about the company that is requesting the H-1B Visa. The LCA also includes information about wages and work benefits. There is another waiting period that is included in this particular step. The LCA application can take between seven days to three-weeks to process.

Step 3:
The third step is submitting the specific form I-129 to the USCIS. The form I-129 can only be submitted after the Labor Certification Application (LCA) has been certified. The employment agreement must be included in the submission with the form I-129, along with the documents that support the employees’ education and qualifications, such as, resumes, training certificates, and anything else that confirms an employees’ formal ability to engage in a specialty occupation. There is also sometimes the necessity to include in the submission the proof that a specific company is able to pay the necessary wages as well as why a foreign employee should be hired by the company in question.

After the submission application to the USCIS is completed, companies wait on average of four to five months to receive approval for obtaining the H-1B Visa. If a company is looking to get approval much sooner, around 15 days at the most, the company has the option of paying a fee of $1,225 to get the premium processing that is available. If the premium processing fee is not obtained, there is still a list of fees that are associated with obtaining a H-1B Visa. The fees include a $325 filing fee, $500 fraud prevention fee, and either a fee of $750 for education and training if the company has less than 25 employees or a fee of $1,500 if the company has more than 25 employees. There is also the additional fee of $2,000 if the company has more than 50 employees and more than half of them are under H-1B Visas. The reality is that it does cost a company to obtain a H-1B Visa, but sometimes these fees are negotiable.

The government is allowed to give out 65,000 H-1B Visas a year. An additional 20,000 H-1B Visas are available for employees that hold a master’s degree or higher from a US institution. H1-B Visas are granted for a period of up to three years and are for workers only in “specialty occupations”. These specialty occupations require at least a bachelor’s degree from the employee in question.

Companies must remember to obtain approval for an H1B Visa and complete the H-1B process and requirement before hiring a foreign employee for any position within their company.

For information on the H-2B process  (which is different than the H-1b visa process) please read our blog post titled: “rule-revisions-for-h-2b-case-guest-worker-cases“.

The information provided on this site is not legal advice but general information only. Laws can and do change and additional laws may apply in your case. Contrary to what your friends tell you every immigration case is different. Please contact our office to review your matter prior to filing any documentation with USCIS

Lawrence Gruner is a H-1b  attorney in sacramento with almost 20 years of experience handling immigration cases. He has office locations throughout northern California. His office handles immigration cases throughout California (including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, San Diego and Sacramento) the United States and the World. You may reach us at 916-760-7270 or you can reach us from anywhere in the world toll free at 888-801-6558 . You may also email us your questions. Attorney Gruner would be happy to review your situation and all of your options. He can help you come up with a plan for your Immigration case. His office handles green card cases (both family based green cards and business based green cards-please read our blog post titled:”What is the wait time for a sibling of a United States Citizen), K1 fiance visa cases (see our article 10 things to know about K1 visas), E1-E2 investor cases, H1b cases and marriage visa (including K3) cases.

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