The H-1B Application Process

The H-1B rule is now final. So now what will the process be. Here is a summary of the H-1B application process. If you’re interested, get on it! Here’s what you need to know.

Step 1: Find an employer who is willing to sponsor you

The U.S. employer must sponsor you for the H-1B visa. Therefore, you must first search for employment in the United States at an employer who is willing to sponsor you through the H-1B process. At the time you are being hired be sure to verify that the employer will sponsor you. 

Step 2: Employer Must Submit Labor Conditions Approval for Labor Certification

Once a US company has hired you, the employer will begin the application process by submitting a labor certification to the Department of Labor(DOL) electronically using the iCERT Portal System. The application for labor certification will inform the DOL your employment which includes the wages, location, and working conditions. The labor certification application requires the employer to affirm that you as the employee will receive a wage that is either equal or greater than the prevailing wage for the position in the geographic area of the work and that the employment will not negatively affect U.S. workers.

Step 3: Employer Electronic Pre-Registration

Under the new H-1B rule, the employer must register each applicant through the USCIS electronic system before April 1st. If the number of registrations exceed the yearly cap, the USCIS will conduct the lottery to select applicants. Once all lottery selections are made, the USCIS will notify the employer about the selected registrations. The employer will then be given a limited time to submit the fully prepared I-129 Petition, the labor certification and evidence.

Step 4: Employer Submits Form I-129

If the DOL provides the labor certification, then the employer will then file the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129 to the USCIS. When the complete changes go into effect. The employer will need to first pre-register electronically with the USCIS. There is a visa cap of 65,000 for all applicants which will include individuals with advanced degrees. There is a 20,000 visa cap for U.S. advanced degree holders. If there are more applicants than the cap, then a lottery system selects who should submit a full petition. Over the past years, there have been more applicants than the cap. Therefore, the lottery system has had to be implemented. If selected, then the employer will submit the full petition. The petition must be submitted with the fee, the labor certification and information about you and your qualifications. The processing time for the petition to be processed varies depending on the service center, and the wait can take up to 3 or 4 months. There is premium processing available for an additional fee.

Step 5: Applicant Completes Application at a US Embassy or Consulate

Once the USCIS approves the petition, the applicant will complete the application process in their home country’s U.S. embassy or consulate.  then the last step is for the applicant to process their visa at their home country’s US embassy office or consulate. 

NOTE: As always this is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Consult an attorney for advice regarding your particular circumstances.

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