Author : Madhuri Nemali
Given the global nature of today’s economy, start-ups recognize that international workers are avaluable addition. For companies sponsoring H-1B workers for the first time, though, the process can be daunting. Here are seven things you should know when looking to file H-1B visa applications with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
FEIN – Register your federal employer identification number (FEIN) with the Department of Labor (DOL) by submitting to them any official document that clearly states both your FEIN and corporate identity.
Salary – Be sure you’re paying the required minimum salary required by the DOL for your H-1B employee. This salary is determined by several factors: geographic area, job field, job title, employee’s educational background, employee’s work experience, and comparable salaries.
LCA – Prepare the Labor Condition Application (LCA). The LCA is your request to the DOL to hire this particular foreign worker under these particular conditions, and your promise that, should the request be approved, you will abide by the DOL’s rules. One of those rules is that the LCA and the information contained within be made available to the entire company. You can do this by posting a copy of the LCA in two high-traffic locations at the address at which the H-1B worker will be based, or by emailing the LCA to the entire company once.
Financial Documents – Compile the financial documents necessary to prove to prove to USCIS that you have sufficient financial solvency to support your employee. While there are no specific numbers or formulas, a good rule of thumb is to show that the company has enough capital to pay the H-1B worker’s required salary as well as rest of the company’s operating expenses. That proof can come in the form of bank statements, tax returns if available, agreements with investors, and accounting reports such as balance sheets,profit/loss statements, and cash flow reports. Understandably, companies are hesitant to share such sensitive information. Your lawyer can work with you to redact information such as account numbers and any third-party names. Not proving your company’s financials to the satisfaction of USCIS can invite increased scrutiny and may even lead to a denial of your application.
Legitimacy of company – Outside of their financials, startups also need to prove to USCIS the legitimacy of their company as a whole, which is done with incorporation documents, business plan, marketing materials, and the lease for and pictures of your office.
I-129 Application – Fill out the I-129. The I-129 form is your formal request to sponsor the H-1B visa of the person you hope to hire. That form is accompanied by all the documents discussed so far, as well as your future employee’s supporting paperwork.
Timeline – Be sure you have enough lead-time. The many different components of the H-1B process mean that from the time you decide to hire an H-1B worker to the time they are able to start working at your company can take weeks, sometimes months. When transferring someone’s existing H-1B visa to your company, the application takes three to five weeks to put together, and between two weeks and four months to get approved. Sometimes workers want the security of knowing the new H-1B application has been approved before leaving their current positions, in which case you have the option of requesting Premium Processing and getting an expedited decision in 2 weeks. When hiring someone who has never had an H-1B visa before, the application still takes three to five weeks to put together, but it can only be filed on April 1st, due to the way USCIS structures its fiscal year and allocation of new visas. If your application is selected for consideration in the H-1B lottery, then a decision will come over the summer, most likely in July. Your employee is then able to start working on the H-1B visa onOctober 1st.
H-1B applications can be tricky for start-ups, but an experienced business immigration attorney can help make the process considerably easier for you. Contact AdviseHub if you have any questions about sponsoring H-1B employees for your company. Our experienced business attorneys are happy to help.
[DISCLAIMER: The content in this article should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. It is intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice, consult an experienced immigration attorney.]