H1B Visa Application process for the fiscal year 2017 occurs during March 2016 - April 2016. The fiscal year 2017 begins on October 01, 2016.
H1B COST CALCULATOR
Do you anticipate a lottery for Fiscal Year 2017?
President Obama recently signed a bill increasing the H1B Fee for Employers with 50 Plus Employees whose workforce consists of 50% or more on H1B and L1 Visas. However, I do not think this will affect the number of H1B applications. There are tens of thousands of IT Consulting Employers with under 50 Employees who will still sponsor H1B visas.
Prediction: There is a high chance of an H1B lottery for the fiscal year 2017!
Although it may sound like I am speculating, there is a 100% chance that there will be a lottery in 2017. The only possibility that USCIS will receive less number of H1B applications only when H1B Aspirants avoid duplication. In other words, getting multiple H1B jobs and filing several H1B petitions.
According to an interim rule announced on March 19, 2008, employers may not file multiple or duplicative H-1B petitions for the same employee. To ensure fair and orderly distribution of available H-1B visas, USCIS will deny or revoke multiple or duplicative petitions filed by an employer for the same H-1B worker and will not refund the filing fees.
Factors that may lead to a lottery again!
- Increasing demand for H1B visas and a growing US IT Market/Economy
- Increase in L1 Visa denials forcing companies to opt for H1B Visas
- High number of applications from US MS graduates
- A fear from H1B Aspirants that the H1B Program may become obsolete
- Growing number of IT Graduates, especially from countries like India
- Bills pending with the US Congress opposing H1B Visas
When is the Lottery Drawn and when can I expect the Results?
The lottery occurs during April 2016, and H1B employers will receive H1B Receipt Notices and Rejection Notices during Mid of May 2016.
How many H1Bs Are available?
As of writing this Article, the current annual cap, as set by Congress, on the H-1B category is 65,000. Not all H-1B nonimmigrant visas are subject to this annual cap. Please note that up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the 65,000 each fiscal year for the H-1B1 program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore free trade agreements. Unused visas in this group become available for H-1B use for the next fiscal year.
An advanced degree exemption is available for the first 20,000 petitions filed for a beneficiary who has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Once that limit is reached, any petitions filed for beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher will count against the regular cap, unless exempt for other reasons.
Where do I find H1B Jobs and Sponsors?
I am very surprised to note that most H1B Aspirants search H1B Sponsors Based on “How many H1Bs filed” on various websites where they gather information from publicly available data from USDOL website. In fact, this data only shows the number of LCAs (Labor Condition Application) filed by the H1B Employer and NOT the actual H1B Filings. An Employer may have filed multiple LCAs for an H1B worker when a there is a change in work location or when an H1B Extension filed. Please DO NOT get carried away by this information as you will be wasting your time.
Download Data from USDOL which is used by several websites for FREE!
As a matter of fact, it does not matter if a Company has filed H1Bs or not! An H1B sponsoring Employer must demonstrate that a "Specialty Occupation" work will be available for the requested period of employment. In other words, your H1B Employer must demonstrate that they have a Client or viable in-house project.
So where do I find H1B Sponsors?
Job Boards and Websites
Indeed.com: You may search for most H1B sponsoring jobs on http://www.indeed.com, a job search engine that gathers job data from millions of Job boards and Employer websites.
Please use a boolean search like "Java Developer H1B."
H1B.IO: I have recently come across this intelligent website http://h1b.io, which has compiled data of all H1B sponsors based on the USDOL LCA filings.
The site imports 35,000 H1B jobs every day; all jobs are categorized by SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) using a prediction algorithm trained on 1.4 million previous visa fillings. It predicts how likely the employer is to sponsor that job. The website calculates the "visa chance.". You can get alerts to get real-time notifications when jobs get posted. In the next few weeks, the site is expected to add a lot of data for each of the 130,000 companies they track. Information may include; average salary, URL, company size, industry, list of all previous H1B visa filings, etc. This website charges a small fee of USD 9.00 per month and it's worth trying!!
Techfetch.com: A job board targetted at H1B Jobs Consulting Companies, and you may find a lot of H1B Employers and H1B jobs Techfetch.com
Questions to Ask an H1B Consulting Employer
You must research Company’s background including owners if they are US Citizens and Company’s standing!
If they are active in IT Consulting and IT Staffing business, I am sure they will be posting a lot of IT Jobs on the Internet.
- Check on www.dice.com (Dice is expensive for Employer subscription, only serious employers with Clients get a subscription)
- Check on www.indeed.com or www.simplyhired.com by doing a search with Quotations “ABC Company.”
- Check www.google.com by searching “ABC Company Jobs.”
- Check ABCCompany website to understand services offerings and jobs. You may also check company website traffic on www.alexa.com
- Ask for active Employee References!
- Get at least two references and discuss with Active Employees.
If possible, research amongst friends.
Ask questions about Resume Marketing Strengths!
It is very important that the H1B Employer have Clients and a Good Tier1 Vendor Network including a Good and experienced Bench sales team to provide project placements. In fact, most consulting Employers are a one man show and do not have any marketing abilities, and you may be required to find projects on your own.
Ask about payroll!
It is important to get specific dates for payroll. Unfortunately, most IT consulting employers pay when they get paid! Hey, you need to pay bills, and it should not be your problem as to when they will get paid.
Fixed Salary Vs Split/Percentage
If you agree on a Fixed Salary or Percentage, please ensure that the gross salary (including hourly rate) is listed on the offer letter, please ensure that your gross salary will be as it is listed on the offer letter to avoid surprises. Please also ensure that the offer letter specifies that you will get paid for any overtime.
If you will accept fixed salary/full-time, please ensure or agree on what happens during holidays and paid vacations (usually two weeks)
Examples: If your pay rate is $50.00/Hr and you work for 80 Hours, your gross should be $4000.00 on your paycheck
Health Insurance and other benefits
It is very important to maintain a good Health Insurance in the United States. Please get more information about the Medical Insurance by asking the following Questions.
- Does it cover dental and vision?
- What is the co-pay (Usually $20-$30)?
- What are the deductibles?
- What are the Emergency room charges?
This is very important as most H1B holders get surprises during Maternity for self (Of course, for a female H1B Worker) or Spouses.
Who pays for the Health Insurance?
If you are going to work on a fixed salary, it’s always better to ask Employer to cover 100% of the Health Insurance cost as this may be variable each year!
Most Percentage wise employment has deductions for insurance on paychecks, please ensure that the deduction is for the Actual amount paid to the Insurance carrier, and it’s a PRE-TAX deduction, you don’t pay taxes on Health Insurance expenses. Please note that Insurance companies send premium bills in advance to your Employer and each month, so be careful with the calculations!
Ask about Relocation Expenses?
If you have to relocate to different locations between projects, you may have to spend a lot of money to relocate, especially if you are with a family. If you are going to work on a salary basis, please ensure you get the relocation information and the amount.
If you will travel to client sites and will work in a different state other than your home state and travel back every week, you may be eligible to receive per-diem expenses. If you will NOT travel and work and reside in the same state, I suggest that you avoid unnecessary per-diem expense reimbursements, you may even get into trouble with the IRS or state agencies after several years to pay huge penalties and interests if the Per-diems received that were not legitimate! Please respect US Laws and be Happy!
What is the process in place to maintain the H1B Employer-Employee Relationship?
It is important that they provide benefits like Health Insurance, Paid Vacations, Performance Review Process, provide computers/software and provide on-site/off-site supervision while obtaining/evaluating weekly reports during your H1B Employment to maintain a healthy H1B Employer-Employee Relationship
How do they handle RFEs if a Client letter is not available?
Are there any Methods in place to support RFEs from USCIS requesting Client letters including documentation they will use instead of a Client Letter? Do they use a Qualified Immigration Attorney?
Ask about H1B Visa Stamping and their experience with US Consulate documentation
You may be required to stamp your H1B visa if you are overseas, please discuss with the H1B Employer about the H1B Visa stamping Process.
USDOL Audits (Very Important)
Ask if the USDOL ever audited the employer for non-compliance or complaints from H1B Employees.
A USDOL audit does not mean that the company is in trouble. Sometimes, there are random audits, and the H1B employer may be in good standing.
Payroll by companies like ADP or Paychex
Ask who processes the payroll, if the payroll is handled by large providers like ADP and Paychex, all withholding taxes are remitted automatically. If handled internally by a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or Quick Books, it is possible that they may not deposit withholding taxes on time.
How does it matter to me if H1B Employer does not pay taxes?
- IRS or State Agencies may run after you in future (Rare occasion)
- You will lose your SS and Medicare Deposits if the employer has not paid taxes
Good Standing Certificate from the State of incorporation.
If the company is in good standing, state governments issue a “Good Standing Certificate” or “Certificate of Clean Hands”. It is a good idea to ask a copy from the last 3-6 months. If your Employer is in Good Standing, they should be able to share a copy.
Active Liability Insurance, Worker’s Compensation and Limits
Liability Insurance will cover any damages you will cause to client systems or software
Workers’ Compensation covers you from any injury that occurs at work site
Employers are required to carry Liability Insurance, Worker’s Compensation with good limits. All most all Clients and Vendors require good coverage of up to $5 Million. Check to see if they carry higher limits under their company name.
Ask about the Green Card Process?
Please ensure your new H1B Employer will sponsor a Green card (Immediately) so that you will retain a priority date and use the I-140 Approval (Second step in GC process) to extend H1B beyond the congressionally mandate 6-year limit. To get an I-140 approval, it takes, at least, one year from the day they initiate the process.
Please do not waste time researching on the Internet as to how many Green Cards the employer has filed vs. approvals. If they have filed several GCs, they may be experienced, it does not mean that all the GCs will be approved (PERM/I-140)
In fact, lesser the number of GCs filed by the employer; the chances of approval are higher. The same rule also applies to H1B process.
However, employers with good turnover of at least $10 Million and with US Citizens and Green Card Holders on payroll are not likely to get into trouble with H1B/GC process (In other words – Non-H1B Dependent Employers)
Immigration Related Expenses
You must have a clear picture related to Immigration Expenses. Under normal circumstances, employers always pay for H1B and GC related expenses including any Attorney Fees. Most employers require candidates to pay the Premium Processing Fee as USCIS accepts a check from the candidate (you) when made out to “Department of Homeland Security”
It is a good idea to discuss these expenses to avoid any surprise deductions from paychecks. I would ask the H1B Employer to send me a written confirmation about these expenses and fees.
Let’s discuss the H1B Application process with Quick FAQs
What is the documentation process involved in filing the H1B Visa petition?
Upon receiving a job offer from your prospective H1B Employer, you will have to gather the following documents.
What documents am I required to gather for H1B visa filing?
H1B Visa document checklist!
Candidates Presently in the United States
- Photo ID/Driver License (Employers may require for E-verify once you join them)
- All Passports, all pages.
- Latest I-94 from the I-94 Retrieval System
- Degree Certificate and Transcripts
- Copies of all I-797s (H1Bs, L1s, H4s, F1s as appropriate)
- Educational Evaluation. (Foreign Equivalency Credentials Evaluation for overseas education –Mention H1BSupport.com and get a discount)
- Entry & Exit Details (If, H1 and L1 as appropriate)
- Experience / Reference Letters
- Marriage Certificate (If on L2, H4, F2)
- Last 3 Pay statements of spouse (If on L2, H4, F2)
- SS Card (if applicable)
Candidates applying from Overseas
- All Passports, all pages.
- Degree Certificate and Transcripts
- Experience / Reference Letters
I am married, what about the Documents for my spouse and children for H4
If you are overseas, your family will apply for an H4 visa along with you at the Consulate. You may not need any documentation from Employer, and a petition with the USCIS is NOT required.
If are in the United States and changing status from like L1 or F1, you H1B Employer should also send an H4 Visa petition with your H1B
What is the USCIS Fee/Cost and other associated expenses for an H1B Visa Petition?
It depends on the Employer size, I mean the total number of Employees on H1B Employer’s payroll, which includes US Citizens, Green Card Holders, and any other workers.
USCIS Fee for Employers
Less than 25 Employees: $1,825.00
More than 25 Employees: $2,325.00
H1B Employers with more than 50 Employees like IT Consulting Companies, whose H1 or L1 workforce in the United States is more than 50 percent, they are required to pay an additional fee of $4,000.00. This increase enacted on December 19, 2015, and signed by President Obama.
If your H1B filed under the Premium Processing program, it requires an additional fee of $1,225.00
Apart from the fee to USCIS, if the H1B Employer uses services of an Attorney; add $500.00 to $1500.00 towards legal services.
For 50 + Employees the total expense is a whopping $6000.00 to $8000.00! What do you think about this? Please comment below!
What is the documentation process involved in filing the H1B Visa petition?
- Get a job offer from H1B Employer
- Employer creates a Notice of posting and posts a job on Employer website, job boards, and State websites as a part of the good faith recruitment efforts of American Workers
- Employer initiates LCA (Labor Condition Application) with the USDOL (Time Frame: 7 Days)
Please read this Article for More Information How an LCA is filed.
- Employer posts an LCA filing notice for 10 consecutive days at conspicuous location at the place of employment
- Employer creates a Public Access file and posts LCA at the employment/work location
- Employer obtains necessary documents from Client/Vendor and you.
- Employer/Attorney prepares H1B (I-129 Petition) SEE Sample I-129
- Employer also prepares form I-907 for Premium Processing SEE Sample I-907
- Employer/Attorney will mail the H1B package to the appropriate service center based on location of work on or after March 31, 2016 (California Service Center or Vermont Service Center of USCIS)
What are the next steps after the H1B Employer/Attorney send the H1B Package to USCIS?
If the H1B is NOT picked in the Random selection process (Lottery), USCIS will reject the H1B application and returns the H1B package with a letter in your name and any fee submitted. USCIS will not cash the check or money order enclosed by the H1B Employer/Attorney.
Hooray..My H1B is picked in the lottery..Next steps?
Premium Processing: USCIS will email a receipt notice to H1B Employer/Attorney followed by a Physical Receipt
Regular Processing: USCIS will post/mail a Physical Receipt to H1B Employer/Attorney. USCIS does not send an email for H1B petitions filed under Regular Processing.
What is the processing time frame for H1B?
It depends on how your new H1B Employer files the petition; USCIS offers regular processing and Premium processing.
Regular Processing Time Frame: 1 Month to 6 Months (Maybe longer if there is an RFE – Request for Evidence)
Premium Processing Time Frame: 15 Calendar days (Yes, count Saturdays, Sundays and any other Federal Holidays). The 15-day period may reset if an RFE (Request for Evidence) has been sent by the USCIS. The 15-day clock will reset from the day USCIS receives a response to the H1B Request for Evidence
Please note the following:
It is important to obtain a copy of the H1B receipt notice for your records, you may sign up on USCIS website to get text/email Alerts for your case.
Once the H1B Adjudication process begins at the USCIS, they may approve the case or send an RFE (Request for Evidence) or NOID in rare cases. (Notice of Intent to Deny)
If an RFE is sent by the USCIS, they normally allow up to 60 days to send a response with the requested evidence. There is no extension of time allowed, and the USCIS must receive the response within the allotted time frame.
Read this Article with information on RFES H1B Client, Employer-Employee Relationship Memo!
It would be very challenging for H1B Employers to demonstrate that they will maintain H1B Employer-Employee Relationship during the H1B Employment. The major problem is with EVC (Employer-Vendor-Client) and more trouble with the ELVC (Employer-Layer-Vendor-Client) Models.
USCIS often requests for a letter from the end-client requesting job duties, location of work, educational requirements and most importantly..
“The H1B Employer Controls your Employment with hire/fire abilities” This is your H1B employer and NOT the Tier 1 Vendor.
“We have seen RFEs requesting Client letters for even consulting companies who have direct clients.”
When you work at a third party client (end-client); USCIS may require exhaustive documentation to support the H1B Employer – Employee Relationship regulations.
It is important to ask the new H1B Employer about their best practices geared towards H1B Employer – Employee Relationship regulations. (Applies to IT Consulting Employers)
Documents that may support a Client Letter RFE when a Client Letter is not available. These documents do not guarantee approval; it all depends on how your H1B Employer/Attorney responds to the RFE and explain that none of the documents submitted will end up creating an Employer-Employee Relationship between you and Client or Vendor.
A letter from Vendor with Client Location, Job Title, Duration, Job Duties, Educational Requirements. This letter should also state that "As a policy, the client will not issue a verification letter to H1B contractors for Immigration Purposes."
- A copy of the SOW between vendor and client
- Phone Number, Email of the Client Manager on Cover Letter
- Copy of the Contract/MSA and Purchase order between your H1B Employer and Vendor
RFEs on Education (Very Common)
Your education and the job must Qualify under Specialty Occupation. It is important that your H1B Employers sends a foreign equivalency evaluation along with the H1B if your education is from overseas. Most consulting H1B Employers, do not send this document expecting a rejection in the lottery. This document costs anywhere between $60.00 to $100.00 for just education and up to $350.00 for evaluations with experience. You may obtain one directly and send to the Employer; please refer to H1BSupport.com to get a discount.
What is Specialty Occupation
“8 C.F.R. § 214.2(h)(4)(iii)(A). In order to perform services in a specialty occupation, an alien must meet one of the following criteria: (1) hold a United States baccalaureate or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university; (2) possess a foreign degree determined to be equivalent to a United States baccalaureate or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university; (3) have any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation (for example, architect, surveyor, physical therapist) in the state in which employment is sought; or (4) have, as determined by USCIS, the equivalent of the degree required by the specialty occupation acquired through a combination of education, training, and/or experience. Specialty occupations may include, but are not limited to, computer systems analysts and programmers, physicians, professors, engineers, and accountants.”
A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts are specialty occupations.
The nature of the specific duties of the position offered are so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is attained only through a baccalaureate or higher degree. Our Company requires this degree or its equivalent as minimum requirement for entry into this specialty occupation, and this degree requirement is common to the industry in parallel position among similar organization.
Sample job titles: Systems Analyst, Programmer Analyst, Business Systems Analyst, Computer Systems Analyst, Computer Systems Consultant, Computer Analyst, Information Systems Analyst (ISA), Applications Analyst, Business Analyst, Systems Engineer
Analyze science, engineering, business, and other data processing problems to implement and improve computer systems. Analyze user requirements, procedures, and problems to automate or improve existing systems and review computer system capabilities, workflow, and scheduling limitations. May analyze or recommend commercially available software. Expand or modify system to serve new purposes or improve work flow. Test, maintain, and monitor computer programs and systems, including coordinating the installation of computer programs and systems. Develop, document and revise system design procedures, test procedures, and quality standards. Provide staff and users with assistance solving computer related problems, such as malfunctions and program problems.
A Java Developer falls under Specialty Occupation and required to have a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree in a Computer Related Field, or if the Education is in a different field, you should have related experience. Each experience in the multiples of 3 years equals to one-year college in the US.
An Administrative Assistant do not fall under Specialty Occupation as it does not requires someone to possess a Bachelor's Degree.
More Frequently Asked Questions
Would it increase the chances getting through the lottery if filed under Premium Processing?
The Answer is NO.
If my H1B filed under Regular Processing; can I upgrade to Premium Processing after few months?
Yes, please read this Article for more information
My H1B petition is approved, Next Steps?
If you are in the US and a Change of Status (COS) is requested and approved, you may begin to work for the Employer. An H1B Visa stamping is NOT required.
If you are overseas, you will have to obtain an H1B Visa stamping from a nearest US Consulate.
I am working on detailed Article(s) related to H1B Jobs, Pay rates, Cost of Living and H1B Visa stamping process with FAQs; please stay tuned.
I wish good luck to all our H1B Supporters/Readers with the upcoming H1B Season and I hope your H1B will be accepted for processing!
Please let me know your thoughts and suggestions by commenting below, I will be more than happy to answer your queries to the best of my knowledge and abilities.
#H1B Visa Process # H1B Visa 2016 2017 # H1B Lottery