H1B visa applications can now be filed using the 'Regular Service' or the 'Premium Processing Service'.
Details below are for the 'Regular Process', with a link at the bottom of this page to 'Premium Processing' filing information
1. Offer & Acceptance of Employment - Employer files a petition on your behalf.
An employer can be an individual, partnership or corporation. Applications are "job specific." If your situation changes (for example, you lose your job or change locations), your new employer must file a new H1B petition. The visa is only valid for work with the employer that filed the original petition. The BCIS require employment letters which provide:
Specific information addressing the positions held
The exact duties of the position
The exact dates of employment
Information regarding the supervisors and co-workers of the beneficiary.
2. The 'Prevailing Wage' and actual wage must be determined and compared. The employer is required to pay the higher of the two.
The prevailing wage is determined by the State Employment Security Agency by completing a special form, which asks the employer for the responsibilities, skills and experience needed for the job. The actual wage is determined by comparing other workers in the same positions with the same level of experience. Previaling Wage Details - Click Here
3. File the Labor Certification Application (LCA).
This is a two-page form that contains information about the employer. By completing and signing the form, the employer is agreeing to pay the higher of the two wages, that the employment of this individual will not adversely affect the conditions of other workers and that there is no strike for their occupation at the workplace. Recently, Congress determined that employers must attest that they will offer H1B visa holders the same benefits as their other workers. This includes health, life, medical, retirement, stock options and bonuses.
Use the following:
Mail or Fax - Use Form ETA 9035
Online Application - Use Form ETA 9035E
Fax # 1-800-397-0478
Mailing Address: ETA Application Processing Center, P.O. Box 13640, Philadelphia, PA 19101.
To Check on the latest Processing Times - click here
4. When the LCA is approved, the Department of Labor (DOL) will return a certified copy to the employer.
5. The employer must post notices at two conspicuous places at their business of the H1B visa filing for 10 days or provide notice of the filing to the collective bargaining representative for their employees.
The LCA form can be used for the actual posting as well. After the Department of Labor accepts the LCA, then your employer can file your H1B visa petition. BCIS Form I-129
6. H1B Petition assembled & filed with appropriate BCIS Service office.
The filing must include the required forms, fees, documents and information; form I-129, education & experience evaluation & documents, training certificates, professional memberships, resume, employment agreement and letter of support.
To Locate the appropriate Service Center - click here
7. Wait for the petition to be processed.
Processing times vary depending upon service center and the visa. It could be up to a three- to four-month wait. If the employer can show a substantial need for the employee, BCIS might approve the petition sooner. Employment cannot begin, however, until INS has issued the appropriate visa.
8. Receipt issued by BCIS
The petitioner (prospective employer) is sent a receipt by the BCIS Service Centre which bears a 9 digit reference number pertaining only to that particular case, H-1B processing times and general information about the petitioner and foreign worker. This is the petitionerís first confirmation that the petition is in the adjudicating queue.
9. A notice is generated by the prospective employer
and mailed to the consultant notifying him/her of this receipt and outlining information on processing times etc. The notice should warn the consultant not to resign from current employment, sell accommodation or make any major life changes until it is communicated that the H1B visa petition has been approved.
10. Petition Approval
Generally a case will be approved within or on the designated time frame outlined in the BCIS receipt.
An approval notice (Form I-797) is issued to the petitioner. The Form I-797 shows dates of validity for the foreign worker to work in H1B status for the petitioner .
~ The H1B visa beneficiary then applies for personal and family visas at the Consulate.
~ Normally, people apply to the Consulate that is closest to where they live.
~ Visa processing normally takes 2-3 days, depending on the Consulate.
Once the passports are returned with valid H1B visa stamp, the Consultant and his/her family may enter the U.S. in H1B status.