: H-1B Visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations for three years, extendable to six years.
Family: Spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age could apply for H-4 non-immigrant visa. They do not have work authorization under H-4 status.
Green Card Intent: Dual Intent is permitted. (Doctrine of Dual Intent allows visa holders to enter the U.S. while simultaneously seeking lawful permanent resident status(green card status)).
H1B Visa Qualification
To qualify for H1B Visa, the foreign professional must hold a bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited college or university in the specialty occupation. If the foreign professional holds a foreign degree, then that degree must be determined to be the educational equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree.
The foreign professional may also obtain an educational equivalence through a combination of education, specialized training or progressive work experience. Three years of specialized experience is generally considered equivalent to one year of college education.
For example, if a foreign professional has a three year associate degree, he or she must at least have 3 year of relevant post-graduate experience to be qualified for H1B Visa.
H1B Visa Occupation
The H1B visa is designed to be used for foreign workers in "speciality occupations", which require theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor.
The occupation list includes, but not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, biotechnology, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts. The "specialty occupations" also require the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum.
Period of Stay
H1B Visa worker may be admitted for a period of up to three years. The time period may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years. There are some exceptions under sections 104(c) and 106(a) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21).
1. If the H1-B visa holder has submitted an I-140 immigrant petition or a labor certification prior to their fifth year anniversary of having the H-1B visa, they are entitled to renew their H-1B visa in one-year or three-year increments until a decision has been rendered on their application for permanent residence.
2. If the H1-B visa holder has an approved I-140 immigrant petition, but is unable to initiate the final step of the green card process due to their priority date not being current, they may be entitled to a three-year extension of their H-1B visa.
3. The maximum duration of the H-1B visa is ten years for exceptional Defense Department project related work.
U.S. Worker Protection
The U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for ensuring that foreign workers do not displace or adversely affect wages or working conditions of US workers.
For every H-1B petition filed with the USCIS, there must be included a Labor Condition Application (LCA) which will be certified by Department of Labor(DOL). The LCA is designed to ensure that the wage offered to the non-immigrant worker meets or exceeds the prevailing wage in the area of employment. The LCA also contains an attestation section designed to prevent the program from being used to import foreign workers to break a strike or replace US citizen workers.
H-1B complaints should be filed with the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division local office which has jurisdiction over the physical location of the employer.
should be used to file the complaint.
If the employer did not fulfill the attestations and pay, the complaints should be filed to the Wage and Hour Division. If the employer conducted fraudulent activities or misrepresented applications (e.g. the company does not exist or never employs the individuals, or someone who is not a representative of the employer signs the application), the complaints will be forwarded to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) by the Wage and Hour Division. OIG then generally works with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate.
In fiscal year 2015, U.S. employers filed 348,669 H-1B visa petitions, and USCIS approved 275,317 of them. Among those approved, 108,531 were for new employment (including new
employer filing H-1B extension), 686 were for new concurrent employment and 50,504 were for change of employer. 25,427 of those approved petitions were from employer of no more than 25 full-time
equivalent employees, 175,248 were from employer of 26 or more full-time equivalent employees, 16,112 were from institutions of higher education, 8,589 were from a nonprofit organization or
entity related to, or affiliated with an institution of higher education,4,526 were from nonprofit research organizations or government research organizations, 2,485 were from primary or secondary
education institutions, 7,670 were from nonprofit entities engaged in clinical training.
In fiscal year 2014, USCIS approved 315,857 H-1B visa petitions. 124,326 of the petitions were for initial employment(68,390 aliens were outside US, 55,936 inside US) and 191,531 were for Continuing Employment.
220,286 beneficiaries(69.7%) were born in India, 26,393(8.4%) were born in mainland China.
203,425 H-1B petitions(64.5%) approved in fiscal year 2014 were for workers in computer related occupations. The median salary of beneficiaries of approved petitions increased from $70,000 in fiscal year 2012 to $75,000 in 2014.
Forty-five percent of H-1B petitions approved in fiscal year 2014 were for workers with a bachelor’s degree, forty-three percent had a master’s degree, 8 percent had a doctorate, and 4 percent were for workers with a professional degree.
Department of Labor(DOL) typically certifies more than 3 times the number of foreign work requests than the number of H-1B visas issued by USCIS.
Who Qualifies for an H-1B Visa?
The H1B visa is a temporary worker visa in specialty occupations. To qualify for it, you must meet one of the following three education requirements:
- You hold a bachelor's or higher degree in the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university.
- You have 12 years of progressively responsible work experience in the specialty.
- You have a combination of education and related professional work experience in the specialty.
Three years of specialized experience is generally considered equivalent to one year of college education.
For example, if you have a three year associate degree, you must have at least 3 year of relevant post-graduate experience to be qualified for H1B Visa.
The USCIS and Department of Labor use a point system to determine if an applicant qualifies for H1B Visa or not. The applicant must have at least 12 points:
- 1 year of college education: 3 points
- 1 year of professional work experience: 1 point
If the degree was earned in a foreign country, the degree must be evaluated by a third agency to determine if it is a U.S. equivalent 4 years bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited college or university.
In addition, if the offered job is in the occupations that require licensure or professional credentials (e.g., doctor, dentist, CPA, attorney, registered nurse), you
must already hold such qualification before the H1B visa petition can be filed or the licensure requirement has been waived.
All H-1B visa jobs must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:
- Bachelor's or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
- The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
- The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
- The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree.
If the officer at USCIS determines that the position is not suitable for H-1B classification because workers without Bachelor degrees typically fill such a position, he or she will notify the employer in a "Request for Evidence" letter.
If you qualify for H1B Visa, please search our Visa Sponsor Database
and contact them directly!
If you do not qualify for H1B Visa, please check other Work Visa programs
. You might qualify for other visa like
H-1B Application Process
H1B Visa Filing
- Employer Submits Labor Certification Application to the Department of Labor.
- Employer Submits Form I-129 to USCIS. The petitions should be mailed to either California Service Center or Vermont Service Center, depending on the H-1B beneficiary’s work location(s) as specified in the petition.
- Prospective Workers Outside the United States Apply for Visa and/or Admission.
H1B Visa petition(Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) must be filed by U.S. employers, who may begin applying for the H1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa.
For example, the beginning of the fiscal year 2017 is October 1, 2016, employers can apply as soon as April 1, 2016 for the fiscal year 2017 cap, but the beneficiary(foreign professional) cannot start working until October 1st, 2016.
If USCIS receives an excess of petitions during the first five business days, the agency will use a computer-generated lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions required to meet the cap. USCIS will reject all unselected petitions that are subject to the cap as well as any petitions received after the cap has closed.
H1B Visa Fee
|USCIS Anti Fraud Fee
|ACWIA Education and Training Fee
||$750 ( For employers less than 25 employees)
$1500 (For employees more than 25 employees)
|Public Law 114-113 fee
||$4,000(only for employers with more than 50 employees in the United States and with more than 50 percent of those employees in H-1B or L status)
|Premium Processing Fee(Optional)
|P.L. 111-230 Fee |
The filling fees include the standard H1B Visa filing fee of $320(Form I-129), Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500, ACWIA(training) fee of $1,500, optional premium processing fee of $1,000, and new Public Law 114-113 fee of $4,000 for petitioners who employ 50 or more employees and more than 50% of those employees are in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status.
Check must be payable to the Department of Homeland Security, dated within the last six months, and include the proper amount and signature. USCIS prefers that you submit a separate check for each fee, and will reject all petitions submitted with the incorrect filing fee.
ACWIA(Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act) fee will be used in training of American workers. If the employer has 25 or less employees, it only has to pay half of the price($750).
The following organizations are exempt from the ACWIA fee: primary or secondary educational institutions, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations related to or affiliated with any institutions of higher education, a nonprofit organization that engages in established curriculum-related clinical training of students registered at any institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations, a governmental research organizations.
Border Security bill passed in August 2010 increased H1B Visa Filing Fee and Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee by $2,000 for employers employing 50 or more employees in the United States and more than 50% of the employees are H1B Visa or L1 Visa holders. The Indian IT consulting companies were among those being hit the hardest.
Starting from October 1, 2015, U.S. employers no longer have to pay additional filing fee of either $2,000 (H-1B) or $2,250 (L-1) mandated by Public Law 111-230.
However, on December 19, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus spending bill. Companies having at least 50 employees with 50 percent of their employees on H-1B or L-1 visa, would have to pay a new fee of $4,000 for H-1B visas and $4,500 for L-1 visas(Public Law 114-113 fee).
Premium Processing Service
H-1B petitioners may choose to file a Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, to have their petition processed within 15 calendar days. To request premium processing, you should submit the Form I-907 and the premium processing fee of $1,225. (This fee is in addition to the required base filing fee and other applicable fees that cannot be waived.)
You can file the Form I-907 and pay the premium processing fee at the same time you file Form I-129 or at any time after you file Form I-129 while it is still pending.
USCIS has developed detailed information, including an optional checklist, Form M-735, Optional Checklist for Form I-129 H-1B Filings
, on how to complete and submit an H-1B petition. Please review carefully and be aware that a new law has changed filing fees for some employers!
Cases will be considered accepted on the date USCIS takes possession of a properly filed petition with the correct fee.
Annual Visa Cap
The current annual cap of H1B Visa is 65,000, but not all foreign professionals holding H1B Visa are subject to this annual cap.
- U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements allow up to 6,800(1,400 for Chilean nationals and 5,400 for Singapore nationals) be set aside from the cap during each fiscal year. Unused numbers in this pool are made available for H1B use for the next fiscal year.
- Laws exempt up to 20,000 foreign nationals holding a master’s or higher degree from U.S. universities from the cap on H1B Visas.
- Laws also exempt all H1B non-immigrants who work at universities and non-profit research facilities from the cap on H1B Visas.
- Laws also exempt those who work in Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
On April 1, 2016, USCIS will start acceptting cap-subject petitions for new H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment beginning on or after October 1, 2016, the starting date of fiscal year 2017.
FY 2016 H-1B Cap Count
USCIS reached the statutory H-1B cap of 65,000 for FY2016 within the first week of the filing period. It also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption.
On April 7, 2015, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as a “lottery”) to select a sufficient number of petitions needed from the approximately 150,000 H-1B petitions to meet the caps of 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption limit.
The following table lists the H1-B Visa Cap Reach Dates from FY2003 to FY2014
||H1B Cap Reached Date
||October 1, 2003
||October 1, 2004
||August 10, 2005
||May 26, 2006
||April 3, 2007
||April 7, 2008
||December 21, 2009
||January 26, 2011
||November 22, 2011
June 11, 2012
April 5, 2013
April 7, 2014
Any US employer with an IRS Tax ID Number can sponsor an H-1B Visa petition. However, some employers must comply with additional attestations when filing Labor Condition Applications(LCA) for H-1B Visa, and some have been banned from approval of petitions for nonimmigrant visa.
The H-1B visa petitioner must establish that an employer-employee relationship exists and will continue to exist with the beneﬁciary throughout the duration of the requested H-lB validity period.
United States employer means a person, ﬁrm, corporation, contractor, or other association, or organization in the United States which:
(1) Engages a person to work within the United States;
(2) Has an employer-employee relationship with respect to employees under this part, as indicated by the fact that it may hire, pay,fire, supervise, or otherwise control the work of any such employee; and
(3) Has an Internal Revenue Service Tax identiﬁcation number
USCIS must look at multiple factors to determine whether a valid employer-employee relationship exists. The petitioner must be able to establish that the employer has the right to control over when, where, and how the beneﬁciary performs the job
Valid employer-employee relationship would exist in the following scenarios:
a. Traditional Employment
b. Temporary/Occasional Off-Site Employment
c. Long-Term/Permanent Off-Site Employment
d. Long Term Placement at a Third-Party Work Site
The following scenarios would not present a valid employer-employee relationship:
a. Self-Employed Beneficiaries
b. Independent Contractors
c. Third-Party Placement/ “Job-Shop”
Willful violator employers
Willful Violators or Willful Violator Employers are the employer who have committed either a willful failure or a misrepresentation of a material fact.
A willful violator employer must comply with additional attestations under any LCA it files within five years of the willful violation finding.
It is also subject to random investigations by the Department of Labor during the five-year period.
The only exception is when an LCA is filed for and used exclusively for exempt H-1B workers .
Willful violators must meet the following additional requirements when filing LCA:
a. The employer has not displaced a U.S. worker at the time of filing an H-1B visa petition;
b. Before placing an H-1B worker at a secondary employer’s work site, the employer has inquired as to the secondary employer’s intent to displace a U.S. worker;
c. The employer has taken good faith steps to recruit U.S. workers; and
d. The employer has offered the job to any equally or better qualified U.S. worker who applies for the job for which the H-1B worker is sought.
Updated list of Willful Violator Employers
Search LCA by Willful Violator Employers
Debarred/Disqualified Employers are the companies or individuals that have been debarred/disqualified from approval of petitions for nonimmigrant visa program, as a result of an H-1B investigation/final agency action.
Updated list of Debarred/Disqualified Employers
H-1B dependent employers
An employer is considered H-1B dependent if it has:
a. 25 or fewer full-time employees and at least eight H-1B nonimmigrant workers; or
b. 26 - 50 full-time employees and at least 13 H-1B nonimmigrant workers; or
c. 51 or more full-time employees of whom 15 percent or more are H-1B nonimmigrant workers.
The employer must determine dependency when filing either:
a. A Labor Condition Application (LCA); or
b. A Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Forms I-129/I-129W) based on an LCA; or
c. A request for an extension of H-1B status for a nonimmigrant worker based on an LCA.
Employers with readily apparent status concerning H-1B-dependency need not calculate that status.
The DOL offers two methods of aggregating an employer's number of part-time employees to FTEs. These methods are (1) each part-time employee is counted at 1/2 a full-time employee with the final number rounded up to next higher number; or (2) adding the total number of hours worked by part-time employees in a pay period (e.g., one week) and dividing this number by the number of hours that constitute full-time employment (e.g., 40 hours) with the number rounded up to the next higher number. The determination of FTEs does not include bona fide consultants and independent contractors.
An H-1B dependent employer must make the additional attestations to DOL when filing a Labor Condition Application :
a. The employer has taken or will take good faith steps meeting industry-wide standards to recruit US residents and will offer compensation that is at least as great as those offered to the H-1B non-immigrant.
b. The employer has offered or will offer the job to any US worker who applied and is equally or better qualified for the job that is intended for the H-1B worker.
c. The employer will not displace any similarly employed US worker within the period beginning 90 days before and ending 90 days after the date of filing a petition for an H-1B non-immigrant supported by this application. A US worker is displaced if the worker is laid off from a job that is essentially the equivalent of the job for which an H-1B non-immigrant is sought.
The above additional attestations do not apply to LCAs filed by the employer solely for the employment of an "exempt" H-1B nonimmigrant. An "exempt H-1B nonimmigrant" is an H-1B worker who earns at least $60,000 per year or holds a Master's degree or higher in a field related to the intended area of employment.
An employer who is H-1B dependent or a willful violator must also attest that it has met or will meet the following requirements:
a. Displacement: Non-displacement of the U.S. workers in the employer's workforce;
b. Secondary Displacement: Non-displacement of the U.S. workers in another employer's workforce; and
c. Recruitment and Hiring: Recruitment of U.S. workers and hiring of U.S. workers applicant(s) who are equally or better qualified than the H-1B non-immigrant(s).
Search LCA by H-1B Dependent Employers
Labor Condition Application(LCA)
Before the H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 visa petition can be filed with USCIS, the employer must fill a Labor Condition Application(LCA) with the Department of Labor(DOL) through the iCERT Portal System no more than 6 months before the initial date of intended employment, demonstrating that it is paying the required wage for this position in the geographic region where the job is located.
The employer may use a single LCA to request multiple positions where they are in the same visa category and job classification, and are either all part-time or all full-time positions.
Employers with physical disabilities or without Internet access may file by mail but must first receive permission from the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC). Fax is not accepted. The LCA also contains an attestation section designed to prevent the program from being used to import foreign workers to break a strike or replace US citizen workers.
While the employer has to pay fees to apply for H-1B visa, there is no fee to the employer or worker to file an LCA with the Department of Labor. An employer may use a single LCA to request multiple positions where they are in the same visa category and job classification, and are either all part-time or all full-time positions.
The LCA must be filed using Form ETA 9035E. Labor Condition Application(LCA) is different from Labor Certification(LC). LC is for employment based green card while LCA is for H1B visa.
When filing Labor Condition Application (LCA), the employer attests that:
1. The employer pays H-1B non-immigrants the same wage level paid to all other individuals with similar experience and qualifications for that specific employment, or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of employment, whichever is higher.
2. The employment of H-1B non-immigrants does not adversely affect working conditions of workers similarly employed.
3. On the date the application is signed and submitted, there is not a strike, lockout, or work stoppage in the course of a labor dispute in the occupation in which H-1B non-immigrants will be employed at the place of employment.
4. A copy of this application has been, or will be, provided to each H-1B non-immigrant employed pursuant to this application, and, as of the application date, notice of this application has been provided to workers employed in the occupation in which H-1B non-immigrants will be employed:
- Notice of this filing has been provided to bargaining representative of workers in the occupation in which H-1B non-immigrants will be employed; or
- There is no such bargaining representative; therefore, a notice of this filing has been posted and was, or will remain, posted for 10 days in at least two conspicuous locations where H-1B non-immigrants will be employed.
DOL typically certifies more than 3 times the number of foreign work requests(LCA) than the number of H-1B visas issued by USCIS. So there is no one to one relationship between the number of workers certified by the DOL and the number of H-1B work visas issued by USCIS.
Our database includes LCA submitted for not only new employment, but also continuation of previously approved employment, change in previously approved employment, new concurrent employment, change in employer and amended petition. Usually, only new employment needs H-1B Visa quota.
Withdraw Certified Labor Condition Application(LCA)
A certified labor condition application (LCA) may be withdrawn at any time, provided the employee benefiting from the LCA is not currently working for the employer and the Administrator has not commenced an investigation. If an investigation has commenced, the LCA will remain pending until the investigation is complete. The LCA could be withdrawn through the iCERT Portal, via email or written notice.
To withdraw a certified LCA via email, the employer must send the request to the LCA Help Center at: LCA.Chicago@dol.gov . The email subject line must include: Certified LCA Withdrawal Request. The certified LCA should be attached to the email. The body of the email should include the employer’s name and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), the LCA number, an explanation for why you are withdrawing the certified LCA, and a statement that no employee is working on the LCA pursuant to it being withdrawn.
To withdraw a certified LCA through written notice, the employer must send the written request to Chicago National Processing Center.
Written notice must include: the employer's name and FEIN if available, the LCA case number, an explanation for why you are withdrawing the LCA, and verification that no employee is working on the LCA pursuant to it being withdrawn.
Withdrawing an LCA through the iCERT Portal is the only option that guarantees confirmation once the withdrawal is complete. The user must access the iCERT Portal to verify if the certified LCA was successfully withdrawn.
More Resources on H1B Visa