Successfully Obtaining Your H1B Visa:
We understand how important H1B Visas are to our clients, and that a successful outcome has a profound impact not just on an individual, but a company as well. H1B Visa applications, whether they are new H1B visas or an H1B transfer or H1B extension, do require careful attention and strong communication -- but with both in place, the process is often more simple, and more stress free than many of our clients expect.
With our experience, the process is step-by-step. We listen. We address your concerns. We help you gather the required information and documentation. And then we carefully prepare all letters and forms needed to obtain your H1B. We'll communicate with you (the employee & the employer) throughout the process, and with both the Department of Labor (DOL) and USCIS while the application is being processed.
In short, our H1B visa attorney experience benefits you in several key areas. We:
Your success is our success. At Lightman Law, that's not just lip service. You'll know it from the first communication through the completion of your case.
Questions? Concerns? We can help. We'll explain the visa H1B process and time frame, and outline exactly what you need to prepare... and what you can expect.
There's no obligation. Contact us:
Do I qualify for an H1B Visa? While it's much easier to answer this for sure after speaking with you personally, there are a few general requirements that must be met. First of all, there MUST be a job offer in place from a U.S. employer, and it must require, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree or equivalent. The employee's degree should be applicable to the occupation of the job being offered and the wage being offered must meet the minimum prevailing wage for the position
I've heard that an H1B visa job must be a "specialty occupation". What is meant by the term "specialty occupation"? As defined by the H1B regulations, a "specialty occupation" is one that requires "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowlege to perform the occupation". In order for an H1B visa job offer to qualify as a "specialty occupation, it must meet ONE of the following items:
How many H1B visas are available every year? Every year on April 1 the U.S. government makes available 65,000 regular cap H-1B visas and 20,000 master's cap H-1B visas available for the upcoming government "fiscal year". The government fiscal year begins on October 1 of every year. For example, when the H-1B visa window opened on April 1, 2010, the government made available H1b visas for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2010.
Are there H1B Visas currently available? No, unless you're applying with an employer that is cap-exempt or you already have an H1B visa and you're seeking to change employers. On April 5, 2013, USCIS announced that they had received more than enough applications to fill the regular and masters cap for Fiscal Year 2014. In fact, they received so many applications that they will be conducting a lottery to determine which applications have a shot at being adjudicated for Fiscal Year 2014. Any applications not selected for adjudication will be returned along with the filing fees. Unless you have already been subject to the H1B cap or you are being sponsored for a position at an employer that is cap-exempt, you cannot file an H1B petition until April 1, 2014 for the FY 2015 H1B cap. To track the H1B visa numbers over the past several years and learn more about the H1B cap please see the following link: H-1B Visa Quota Update.
When should I start preparing my application? It's never too early to start to prepare your H1B application, but generally speaking it's a good idea to start at least several months in advance to avoid any potential hiccups or delays. For example, many clients start working with us in December and January for the April 1 cap-subject filing filing.
What start date can I request for my H1b employment for a new application? For a new H1B application, you cannot request a start date earlier than October 1 of the same year if you're applying with a cap subject employer. For example, if you apply on April 1, your start date cannot be earlier than October 1 of the same year, unless your position is not cap-subject. Likewise, if you apply on July 1, your start date cannot be any earlier than October 1. You also cannot request a start date more than 6 months in advance. This means that if you file an application on June 1, you can only request a start-date between October 1 and December 1. In this regard, it's also important to recognize that if you are filing a change of status in the US you must be able to maintain a legal status until your start-date request. Likewise, if you file an application after October 1, you can request a start date almost immediately or 6 months in advance. If you have already been subject to the H1B visa cap and you are not re-subjecting yourself to the H1B cap, then you can request a start ASAP or up to 6 months in advance of filing the petition.
What qualifies as a cap-exempt organization and what’s the difference compared to a cap-subject? A cap-exempt organization is one of the following organizations:
Is any type of nonprofit organization or governmental organization exempt from the H1B cap? No, only those that engage in RESEARCH are exempt from the cap. 8 CFR 214.2(h)(19) tells us the following in this respect:
My bachelor's degree is unrelated to the occupation? In such a scenario it is important to speak with an experienced H1b visa lawyer to determine if this is in fact the case. A good H1b visa lawyer may be able to find the proper connection by evaluating the specific courses you took and your work experience. By focusing on specific courses and your work experience, it may be possible to obtain an evaluation equating your education and work experience (or just education) to the equivalent of a certain degree.
What are some common H1B visa occupations? Remember the rules above in regard to what qualifies a position for the H1b Visa status. There are too many occupations that may qualify to list here, but the following should give you a general idea: architects; engineers; professors; teachers; lawyers/attorneys; other related legal positions; programmers; computer systems analysts; database administrators; computer-related occupations; accountants; financial analysts; budget analysts; economists; management consultants; public relations and communication specialists; doctors; dentists; physical therapists; dietitians; medicine and health related occupations; writers; editors; artists of varying types; librarians; archivists; marketing and advertising positions; social workers...and the list goes on! It is impossible to list each and every possible occupation or job that may qualify for an H1B visa, so please don't panic if you don't see yours here. Just contact us!
How do I determine the H1B prevailing wage for my position? The prevailing wage is based on several factors, such as the occupation for the position, work location, and amount of experience required for the position. As part of our service, we determine what the H1B prevailing wage will be for the position. There are two ways to determine the prevailing wage: 1) Submit a prevailing wage request with the U.S. Department of Labor; OR 2) Classify the position ourselves and find the position online on the U.S. Department of Labor's website (http://www.flcdatacenter.com/). Option 2) is the preferred method. For some positions we're able to give clients an idea of the approximate prevailing wage even before we begin processing the case, but for other clients, where the position or occupation is less clear at the outset, we can only determine the prevailing wage after analyzing additional information related to the employer and the position.
How much visa H1B experience do you have? From first contact, you'll have complete confidence that you are dealing with an experienced H1B Visa Attorney with strong H1 visa knowledge and experience. In fact, while Lightman Law Firm is experienced in many areas of immigration law, H-1B visas are among our most common and sought after services. We work with employees and employers in a wide range of professional fields, and with foreign nationals from across the United States and the world. Due to our experience in the field, we were recently asked to contribute our thoughts on the H-1B visa program and its impact on IT solution providers. See the following link for access to this article: H-1B Jobs: IT Solution Providers at a Disadvantage.
I don't live in New York. Can you still work with me? Absolutely. We work with foreign nationals and employers from all across the U.S. and throughout the world. Whether we meet in person, over the phone, or using the internet, our strong communication will be an asset to your case.
How long does the process take? Much of this depends on how long it takes our clients to gather the information required to submit an application. Typically, from the moment that the all the materials have been provided, an application can be submitted within approximately 7 days. The 7 day delay is largely due to the time it takes to receive the certification of the Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL), as an H1b visa application must be submitted with a certified LCA. Approval time then depends on USCIS and the method of processing. If the application is submitted via regular processing, it can typically take anywhere from approximately a few weeks to a couple of months. If the application is submitted via premium processing, it can take up to 15 calendar days.
What type of information and documents do you need from me and my employer to prepare the application? Generally speaking, information required for the proper preparation of the H1b visa application can be broken up into 3 parts: employer; position; and foreign national. We will need to discuss and document each of those items in detail. For a more indepth overview of what type of information and documents you should be prepared to provide, please see the following video:
What are the USCIS filing fees for a new H1b application? The filing fees range from a total of $825 or $1,575 for some types of organizations to $2,325 for other types of organizations. If the company sponsoring you for an H1B is not a cap exempt organization (see above for a definition) or a primary or secondary education institution, then the filing fees will be $1,575 if they employ 25 or less employees in the US OR $2,325 if they employ 26 or more employees in the US. If the sponsoring organization is a cap-exempt organization (see above for a definition) or a primary or secondary education institution, then the filing fees will only be $825. It should also be noted that if the sponsoring organization employs 50 or more individuals in the US AND 50% of those employees are in the H-1B or L nonimmigrant statuses, then there will be an additional fee of $2,000 . Premium processing, which guarantees a response within 15 calendar days, costs an extra $1,225 for any type of application.
How do I know how much the fees are for my new H1B application? The fees consist of the following: a) $325 petition fee; b) $500 fraud fee; and c) $750 or $1,500 ACWIA fee. If your employer employs 25 or less employees, the total fees are $1,575 (ACWIA fee of only $750) whereas if your employer employs 26 employees or more the total fee is $2,325 (tack on $2,000 if 50 or more employees and more than 50% are in H-1B or L status). However, some employers are exempt entirely from the $750 or $1,500 ACWIA fee and therefore only pay total filing fees of $825 (cap exempt organizations or primary or secondary education institutions).
What are the fees if my employer is merely seeking to extend or amend my H1B? If the petitioner is seeking for the first time to extend your H1B, and they previously filed an H1B for you, then the $500 fraud fee is not due again with the extension. That means that the filling fees will only consist of the $325 petition fee and the $750 or $1500 ACWIA fee (the additional $2,000 fee could still apply). If the petitioner is seeking for the second time to extend your status (this means it would be the 3rd petition the petitioner has submitted on your behalf) then the ACWIA fee and fraud fee are not required, leaving the total filing fee at $325. If the petitioner is merely seeking to amend your H1B and is not asking for an extension of stay, then the fee is only $325.
Who can pay the USCIS filing fees? The foreign national or employer can pay the $325 petition fee, the $500 fraud fee, and the $1,225 premium processing fee. However, the employer must pay the $750 or $1,500 ACWIA fee. If the foreign national pays the $500 fraud fee, the amount will be deducted from the total wage paid to him/her in the H1B status when determining whether he/she has been paid the minimum prevailing wage.
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Why Lightman Law Firm?
- Honest & Professional
- Affordable Flat Fees
- Open Communication
- Attention to Detail
- Quick Processing
- Experienced Representation
- We Care About Our Clients!
Did you know?
Douglas M. Lightman, the principal and founding lawyer of Lightman Law Firm, is a proud member of the Bar of the State of New York and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
In addition, Mr. Lightman, has been listed as an immigration lawyer on the websites of both the British Consulate General at New York and the Consulate General of Canada in New York.
For more information about the firm and Mr. Lightman, please see: ABOUT US.