By: Joseph Barnett
It’s H-1B filing season again, which means that U.S. employers must file Form I-129s to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations during the first week of April 2019. This is particularly important for students graduating and finishing OPT who have few other options to lawfully remain in the United States. Once again, we expect demand for these H-1B visas to significantly outnumber the annual supply.
Since these visas are in such high demand, it is crucial that a well-prepared petition is filed. Here are 5 tips for filing a winning H-1B Petition:
1. Start early, so you can file as soon as the window opens. Far more petitions are filed every year than there are slots available. The H-1B lottery window opens for only the first five business days of April, so it’s best to start the process early to ensure you file the petition as soon as the window opens.
2. Make sure the employee has a U.S. bachelor’s degree (or equivalent). Many foreign national employees completed their degree at colleges and universities abroad. In these situations, it is critical to have an academic equivalency evaluation to prove that the employee’s prior education and/or work experience are the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree in the given field. Education evaluators become overwhelmed with last minute requests. Request the evaluation as soon as possible.
3. Make sure the employee’s degree directly relates to the position and occupation. In the current era of restrictive adjudications, this is especially important. Many of the Requests for Evidence (RFE) issued by the USCIS allege that the employee’s degree does not sufficiently relate to the specialty position. This can result in the denial of a petition, even if you are lucky enough to be selected in the H-1B lottery.
4. Make sure the employee’s salary is above the prevailing wage required for the position. A key tool in determining the required prevailing wage for a position is the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center (http://www.flcdatacenter.com/). By entering the position and geographical location, you can find the Department of Labor’s prevailing wage levels required for an H-1B case. Some USCIS requests challenge whether an entry-level position, i.e. one listed with a level one salary, can be classified as a specialty occupation.
5. Have a qualified immigration attorney review all the paperwork. Many people make the mistake of navigating the treacherous waters of immigration law alone. Retaining an experienced immigration attorney during the H-1B visa process significantly increases your chances of being approved. Attorneys make sure that the fees and documents are filed correctly, and the employee’s position and qualifications are factual accuracy.
Contact a WR immigration professional with any questions about H-1B filings by phone at 1-800-VISA-LAW or email email@example.com.