H-1B FOR SPECIALTY OCCUPATIONS

The H1B visa classification for Specialty Occupations allows U.S. employers to augment the existing labor force with highly skilled temporary workers. Applicants must demonstrate theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, and more. The H1B visa is an employer sponsored visa with a lottery process that occurs each year. Although most H-1B visas are subject to the lottery, there are certain instances where the H-1B petition may be cap-exempt. An F-1 visa student who is employed as an engineer and would like to change visa status to continue working in the US after completing their education is an example of an H-1B visa case.

At Tsang & Associates, we have a long history of helping thousands of clients to successfully file the H-1B for Specialty Occupations, both businesses filing for their employees and individual employees seeking expert assistance with their petitions. Our team can help complete the H-1B process from beginning to end.

 

Schedule A Consultation

Select a date and time to set up your 1-hour consultation. Simply & securely pay our one-time $250 consultation fee to talk with an H-1B expert.

If you would like to have a quick 10-minute chat with our team before setting up the consultation, feel free to schedule an appointment with us.

H-1B PROCESS OVERVIEW

Step 1: Strategy Session for H-1B Visa

This is the most crucial step for your entire H-1B Visa. We will review all of the supporting documents to create a strategy, a customized checklist, and a timeline to serve as the guiding foundation for the entire case preparation.

Step 2: Prepare and Submit H-1B to USCIS

Our attorneys will craft your H-1B arguments and complete all forms, organize supporting documents and assemble the crafted arguments into the proper application formats. Every letter of recommendation, employment document, etc. will be carefully reviewed for your success.

Step 3: Respond to Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)

If USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), our attorneys will craft a response in a timely manner to fight for the approval of your H-1B application.

Step 4: Prepare Client for Interview at the Consulate

It all comes down to this after USCIS approves the H-1B. We help guide our clients in his/her preparation for the interview at a U.S. consulate by simulating the interview and ensuring the client is well-versed in the application material. Our services include a comprehensive strategy for answering inquiries posed, as well as practice questions, thorough feedback, and other tools to help our clients succeed during the interviews.

Step 5: Responding to Consulate Requests / Administratsive Processing / Status Checks / Fraud Alert

After the interview, we will help formulate possible responses from the U.S. Consulate or additional document requests, to revised applications and fraud alerts. It is about keeping close tabs on the Consulate processing.

Step 6: Approval is Only The Beginning

Our services do not end when you receive your H-1B visa approval – this is only the beginning. To help accommodate this reality, our team will continue to provide guidance and support to you and your dependent family members post-approval with the following:

  • Consular processing(“visa stamping”)
  • CBP – Airport Arrival
  • Dependant Visas
  • and more!

H-1B COSTS & FEES

Our fee structure is unique to us as we strive to tailor our services for each client individually. We adapt price standards that are capable of fluctuating for each client depending on their unique needs. Clients may retain us for one or all of the H-1B process steps and services. Below are the required H-1B filing fees and a sample legal fee for an H-1B visa for specialty occupations.

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H-1B Legal Fee: $5,000

Our base fee for a standard H-1B case is $5,000 and does not include any government fees or third-party expenses. We are happy to customize a proposal for you during your H-1B consultation.

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H-1B Filing Fee

The most up-to-date H-1B filing fee can always be found on the USCIS’s website or you can use the USCIS Fee Calculator to calculate how much the government filing fees are.

ESTIMATED TOTAL H-1B COSTS:

$5,000 + Filing Fee

H-1B PROCESSING TIME

As with any USCIS petition or application, the amount of time required to obtain H-1B status varies according to circumstances at the particular employer, at the Department of Labor (DOL) including prevailing wage determination (if necessary) or Labor Condition Application (LCA), and at USCIS. The number of applications and petitions that have been received by USCIS will affect processing times, as will the accuracy of the information and the amount of evidence you provide with your petition.

In our experience, the typical H-1B processing time takes between 1.5 and 3 months. You can use the USCIS Processing Timetable to figure out how long the H-1B processing time may be.

~1.5-3 Months

Requirements of the H-1B For Specialty Occupations

Eligibility for an H-1B Visa

Requirements:

  1. Possess a U.S. Bachelor’s degree;
  2. Alternatives to Possessing a U.S. Bachelor’s Degree:
    1. Possess a foreign degree that is determined to be the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree;
    2. Possess an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes the individual to practice in that industry in the state of proposed employment;
    3. Possess education, specialized training, and/or experience that is equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor’s degree;
  3. In order for the position to qualify as a specialty occupation, it must meet the following technical requirements:
    1. Full state license to practice in the occupation, if such license is required to practice in the occupation;
    2. Completion of the degree in the specific specialty required as a minimum for entry into the occupation; or
    3. Experience in the specialty equivalent to the completion of such degree, and recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions relating to the specialty;
  4. Employer must obtain an approved Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor.

Limitations:

  1. The position offered must require knowledge, both theoretical and applied, which is almost exclusively obtained through studies at an institution of higher learning;
  2. The position must require a specific course of study which relates directly to the position;
  3. The attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific activity (or its equivalent) is a minimum requirement for the position.

Checklist of Required Evidence

H-1B Documents for Filing the Petition

  • I-129 petition
  • Approved Labor Condition Application
  • Supporting evidence, including:
    • Copy of resume
    • Copy of job offer including job description
    • Proof of your degree
    • Other evidence that may be particular to your case

Relevant Law

8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(ii)

ii) Definitions.

Prominence means a high level of achievement in the field of fashion modeling evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading, or well-known in the field of fashion modeling.

Recognized authority means a person or an organization with expertise in a particular field, special skills or knowledge in that field, and the expertise to render the type of opinion requested. Such an opinion must state:

  1. The writer’s qualifications as an expert;
  2. The writer’s experience giving such opinions, citing specific instances where past opinions have been accepted as authoritative and by whom;
  3. How the conclusions were reached; and
  4. The basis for the conclusions supported by copies or citations of any research material used.

Specialty occupation means an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in fields of human endeavor including, but not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts, and which requires the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific specialty, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

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.

Residential Financial Corp. v. USCIS, 2012

  • The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff stating “[w]hat is required is an occupation that requires highly specialized knowledge and a prospective employee who has attained the credentialing indicating possession of that knowledge.” They also state, “[t]he knowledge and not the title of the degree is what is important.” The court ruled that there were four reasons necessary in determining the validity of this specialty occupation.

Tapis International v. Immigration and Naturalization, 2000

  • “For the ‘equivalent’ language to have any reasonable meaning, it must encompass not only skill, knowledge, work experience, or training… but also various combinations of academic and experience-based training.”

H-1B SAMPLES & TEMPLATES

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Attorney Brief:  [coming soon] We will provide an attorney brief sample for the H-1B petition.

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H-1B Cover Letter: [coming soon] We will also provide a cover letter sample for the H-1B petition.

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Sample Request for Evidence: [coming soon] Requests for evidence can be used to strengthen the case.

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Sample Checklist: [coming soon] We look at the client’s unique situation and create customized checklists to strengthen their cases.

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H-1B Interview Questions: [coming soon] We’ll help you practice & adequately answer the most common H-1B interview questions.

H-1B FAQs

  • What are the benefits of an H-1B visa?

    • H-1B visa is granted in increments for a total stay of six years;
    • Dual intent/opportunity to petition for future permanent residence. Immigration laws and USCIS regulations allow the H-1B holder to have “dual intent” with respect to his or her intent to immigrate to the United States. Therefore, an individual seeking the temporary right to work in the U.S. via an H-1B visa may also petition for permanent U.S. residence;
    • No need to maintain a foreign residence. With the H-1B visa, there is no need for an alien worker to maintain a foreign residence, as opposed to many other temporary visas;
    • Ability to change employers during H-1B status. An H-1B worker can start to work for his/her new employer as soon as the new employer files a new H-1B petition on behalf of the alien;
    • Applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may be entitled to enter and remain in the United States for the duration of the H-1B status holder’s authorized duration of stay;
    • An H-1B visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age are permitted to attend school either on a part-time or full-time basis;
    • An H-1B holder is allowed to go to school part time or full time without an H-1B as long as he/she currently holds a valid H-1B status. This means that while the H-1B employee is attending school, he/she must continue to work for his/her employer;
    • Applicants can apply for a part-time H-1B, as long as work hours are at least 50% of the normal full-time hours in the industry and the applicant satisfies all other requirements for an H-1B visa. If the applicant already has H-1B status, they can apply for a concurrent H-1B for another part time job. In this situation, there is no set number of hours that the beneficiary must work for each employer.

  • What kinds of occupations qualify for H-1B status?

    A broad range of professional occupations qualify for H-1B status. Generally, professional-level occupations in engineering, biological sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, mathematics, and business administration will qualify for an H-1B visa. A bachelor’s degree is always the minimum requirement for an occupation to qualify for H-1B status, but depending on the position, an advanced degree (Master’s or Ph.D.) may be necessary.

  • Is it difficult to get H-1B status in certain kinds of jobs?

    It may be particularly difficult to get H-1B status for certain types of jobs. Positions in sales can be difficult if they do not require special training. Some positions in the computer industry, especially computer programming, can be difficult because the minimum requirements for some computer-related jobs are not always well established. An attorney can advise you as to the applicability of an H-1B for a particular job.

  • Is there a minimum salary for a job in H-1B status?

    Yes, the employer hiring an H-1B worker, must have documentation to prove, and then must certify to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that it will pay the H-1B employee the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher. The prevailing wage is the salary paid to workers in similar occupations in the geographic area of the intended employment. The actual wage is the wage that the employer pays employees in similar occupations at the location of the intended employment. The employer must also certify that it is not displacing any U.S. workers to hire the H-1B applicant, and that there are no strikes or other work stoppages in the occupation in which the H-1B applicant will be employed. The employer makes these declarations, under penalty of perjury, by submitting to DOL for certification a form called a “Labor Condition Application” (LCA).

  • What is the H-1B 'cap'?

    The cap refers to the limit of H-1B visas allowed per federal fiscal year (FY). A fiscal year begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th of the following year. Current regulations set the cap at 65,000 H-1B visas and the 20,000 H-1B visa master's cap for the entire country. To check the latest cap count please visit the USCIS website.

  • How can I register for the H-1B lottery?

    Employers will need to register a USCIS account and complete the registration on their own or through their attorney. You can read about the H-1B lottery process on the USCIS website. The H-1B registration period is typically 3 weeks in March and the randomized lottery is conducted at the end of the month.

  • When can I start working on my H-1B status?

    If you are selected for the H-1B lottery, then the earliest date you can start working is October 1st.

    If you are a student with F-1 visa status and currently working on a valid OPT or STEM OPT EAD, you may continue working until October 1st if your EAD is valid at the time you file the H-1B petition and your H-1B petition is subsequently approved.

    If you are applying for a cap-exempt H-1B or transferring to a new employer, you can start working as of the H-1B approval date.

  • I am an employer, can you help me file H-1Bs for my employees?

    Yes, our legal team has assisted many businesses in preparing H-1B petitions for their employees. For many businesses, preparing H-1Bs is an annual process and we can assist in the full process each year or as a complement to your HR department to ensure accurate and timely filing each year.

  • Can you assist before the H-1B lottery?

    Yes, the legal team at Tsang & Associates can assist you in the H-1B visa process no matter where you are in your filing. We can help with the initial lottery registration through your H-1B visa approval (and beyond). If you aren't sure if an H-1B is right for you, we can help you to review your options and eligibility during your initial consultation.