The April 1 filing date for cap-subject H-1B petitions is fast approaching and companies all over the U.S. are working to make sure their petitions are ready to be filed. Since many companies file tens or even hundreds of petitions for foreign workers, it is easy to make mistakes when trying to get everything done in time to meet the deadline. However, like almost all immigration processes, the H-1B petition must be as close to perfect as possible – even a tiny mistake on a street address or zip code could mean the difference between an approval and denial. Read on for 5 tips on making your H-1B petition as strong as possible.
**Disclaimer: The following tips are for general knowledge and do not constitute legal advice. It may be worthwhile to retain the services of an attorney experienced in the intricacies of U.S. immigration law to ensure compliance with the often complex process of petitioning for an H-1B visa.
1. Sign, Sign, Sign
Every H-1B petition requires a Form I-129, Form I-129 H Supplement, Form I-129 Data Collection sheet, certified Labor Condition Application (LCA), and a support letter from the petitioning employer. Make sure to sign these documents before submitting them to USCIS. Importantly, the Form I-129 H Supplement requires two signatures (while the Data Collection sheet does not require any signatures).
2. Review, Review, Review
In immigration law, there is no such thing as too many reviews. Double and triple checking all documents is a must before submitting them to USCIS. Does the worksite address on the LCA match the address on the Form I-129? Is the Beneficiary’s date of birth and country of birth correct? These are just a few of the key details that must be confirmed on the petition.
3. Obtain Evaluations in Advance
To qualify for an H-1B visa, both the job position and the work must meet certain requirements. The job position must be a specialty occupation (which means a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent is required to perform the job duties) and the foreign worker must possess a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Many bachelor’s degrees from certain countries (particularly India) are only three-year programs and therefore do not qualify for H-1B purposes on their own. When this happens, the worker can still qualify for an H-1B if he or she has at least three years of relevant work experience. An experienced credential evaluation company can analyze the person’s education and experience in order to confirm that the person possesses the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree – but these evaluations take time. Order them as far in advance as possible.
4. Check Degrees
In addition to the 65,000 H-1B visas that are available every year, there are 20,000 set aside for beneficiaries who obtained Master’s degrees at U.S. universities – but not all universities qualify for this benefit. Only public or nonprofit universities qualify for the Master’s cap. If the foreign worker obtained his or degree from a for-profit university, it will not qualify for the Master’s cap and will need to be filed under the regular cap.
5. Check Payments
Paying for H-1B petitions can be expensive. Every petition requires a $325 base filing fee and a $500 fraud fee. Then, depending on how many employees the company has, additional $750, $1,500 and/or $4,000 fees may be necessary. Petitions that do not have the correct fees will be rejected so it is very important to understand what fees your company must include with each petition.
All the filing tips in the world won’t increase the number of sorely needed H-1B visas. It’s possible as many as 75% of the filed petitions won’t be accepted for processing due to the oversubscribed nature of this visa program. One tip Congress should consider is increasing the number of H-1B visas more in keeping with U.S. employers’ needs.
More Blog Posts
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012