Tag Archives: visa sponsorship

H-1B Visa Application Season 2014

Happy new year and the roulette wheel of H-1B visas is just around the corner again for the plethora of companies that sponsor these visas along with the hundreds of thousands of foreigners hoping for a chance to work in the US.

We don’t use the term roulette wheel to be cute or as a casual throw away line but in the sense of both how random the process is but also to emphasize how we are literally playing games with millions and billions of dollars of wealth gained and lost in the US through this game of luck system we have.

As a quick refresher on the H-1B visa there are 65,000 general visas issued each year and 20,000 additional visas issued under an Advanced Degree Exemption for foreigners who have obtained graduate degrees or higher from a US University. So that gives a total of 85,000 visas issued to professional foreigners who have to paid a typical professional wage. This is determined by  their career position and locality which is equivalent at minimum to the average salary paid to US worker in the same role an place and is know as a prevailing wage.

Why the above is a significant point to take note is multiple fold  as it affects society, families, foreigners, us companies, the economy and immigration simultaneously. Ultimately none of it is good for the US although  depending on who you listen to the H-1B visa might be the scourge of America. The sad reality is if you listen to rhetoric, ad hoc anecdotes and misinformation you could be convinced. If nothing else you should listen to the facts and decide for yourself;

  • Each month foreigners start more businesses than US born citizens
  • Foreigners earn 3x patents of US born citizens
  • Foreigners found more Silicon Valley companies than US born citizens
  • All PhD educated growth from US Universities in last 40 yrs is from foreign students
  • Immigrants as a whole pay more in taxes than receive in benefits and more ….

As it stands now US companies are restricted in hiring the best and brightest and talented foreigners are leaving the US in droves often with US degrees and founding companies and creating wealth and jobs elsewhere. The proposed US Immigration Reform 2013 passed by the Senate hopes to address this in many ways, however it has gone nowhere in the house and as it stands will have no affect on the H-1B visa season due to being on April 1, 2014.

If you are a foreigner or potential employer then we suggest you complete all your hiring and do your immigration paperwork now so you can send it to the USCIS (United States Custom & Immigration Service) to be received by FedEx on April 1. Last year there was an H-1B visa lottery for the first time since 2008 and likely this year will be even more competitive with the improving economy so your package needs to be in at earliest possible moment.

Good luck this season and we have pasted a summary of all the relevant fees and steps for Immigration part although they are always subject to change;

H1B Visa Fees 2014

To Apply for the Visa; (all USD)
1. USCIS Filing Fee with USCIS $325 – Form I-129 (Spouse optional H4 Fee is $300)
2. Fraud Detection Fee with USCIS $500

3. LCA Filing Fee with Department of Labor FREE – Form ETA 9035/9035e (a small win here…although am sure will change one day)
Also have to ensure prevailing wages are met as well in this part so you are paid the same or more as a US worker in same position)

4. Premium Filing Fee $1,225 (optional – Form I-901) – excessive designed to help process where your legal representative has access to case officer phone number and decisions are made fast in 15 days and can also aid spouse partner H4 visa process

5. Public Law 111-230 $2,000 – (dependent) to be submitted by a petitioner which employs 50 or more employees in the United States where more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States are in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status.

6. ACWIA Fee $750 or $1,500 – if your petition is successful this goes to a training fund for US workers and is $1,500 unless you have less than 25 full time employees. Some government, education and non-profit institutions are exempt from this fee

7. Consular Application Fee $131 (x2 for spouse)
8. Visa Issuance Fee $100 (x2 for spouse) (but varies by country so check the Visa Reciprocity Section of the USCIS

How To Work In The US (Part 3): Job Applications & Visa Process

(this is a series and a real life experience from one of our readers who wanted to share his journey to work in the US in the hope it would educate and inspire others)
Part 1 – J1 Visa & Early Days
Part 2 – Living & Finding Work in NY

Getting a “real” job and moving to the E3

My goal was always to find a way to stay in New York beyond my J1 visa year. About six months into my J1 I got a job working for a theatre management company. They knew that if they wanted to keep me beyond the end of my J1 they’d have to sponsor me, so I began the process of researching the E3 visa. To be honest, most of what I learned about it I found here on e3visa.info. CJ’s articles on the visa process were insightful and easy to read. While the process isn’t the same for everyone, having a resource like this is immensely helpful. So if you’re planning to get on an E3, go back and read every article on this site.

I have a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Drama and Theatre Studies from an Australian university. My job definitely requires a college degree – the tricky part was proving that it requires MY college degree.

When you have a visa sponsor and are about to fill out the LCA, do a bit of research on the Department of Labor website about the BEST way of categorising your job. If your job doesn’t easily fit a DOL category, try finding one it does. We categorised my job as “Associate Producer” (not my real title) because “Producer” is a recognised specialised occupation according to DOL. Specialisation is also important: the title you pick has to be a job that requires a Bachelor’s degree or higher to do. In addition, you have to be making the median wage level for that job. This can sometimes be tricky: my job certainly didn’t pay anywhere near the median wage, but we were able to argue that I made a certain amount as an hourly rate and worked part time. They don’t need any supporting documentation to prove this information, so while I certainly wouldn’t advise lying on your visa application, you are able to stretch the parameters a little if you’re clever.

The US consular interview is really straightforward. It’s best to be as prepared as possible – I brought letters of support from old employers, my university results, my CV and other supporting documents. Ultimately the only thing they asked for was my LCA and a letter from my employer, which stated how much they were paying me and what my duties were. They asked how I found my job, what my job description was like, and what my  degree was in (though they never asked to see my paperwork). They asked about my ties to home (my entire family is over in Australia, so that was easy) and then stamped my document and sent me on my way. My passport with my E3 visa in it arrived three days later and I came back to the States a week later.

All in all, the process is actually incredibly simple. Once you have a job, filling out the LCA correctly is the trickiest part of the process – and it’s really not difficult at all, it just requires a bit of thought and maybe some inventiveness if your work situation isn’t really straightforward. I freaked out a lot and met with a lawyer who tried to convince me I couldn’t do it alone. I nearly paid them $4000 before actually paying attention to what was required of me and realising that I COULD do this on my own. I am SO relieved I didn’t do it through a lawyer; I would never have forgiven myself for paying that much for something that was so easy to do.

The hardest part is actually GETTING the job. If you plan to come over and look for work, your best bet is to get onto the B1 tourist visa and stay as long as you need to until you get a job. In this climate, it will take you longer than the 90 days allowed on the visa waiver (unless you are highly qualified in a specialist field). Bring your life’s savings with you and be prepared to go through it – whether you’re looking for work on the J1, E3, or H1B – looking for work can be exhausting and demoralising. But if you want it badly enough, and more importantly, if you KNOW what is required of you from the visa process, you will be fine.

My final three pieces of advice:

1) Know the visa process inside out. Be able to answer any question your future employer might ask you. The advantage of the E3 is that it costs your employer nothing to sponsor you, but they will probably still have lots of questions.

2) Read the instructions on the consular website. Tattoo them on your forehead. And for god’s sake, REMEMBER YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THE VISA FEE AT AUSTRALIA POST (if you apply in Australia) and you HAVE TO COME TO THE CONSULATE WITH A REGISTERED POST ENVELOPE. The three people ahead of me at the consulate forgot one or both of these things and had to leave and go to the post office and come back and wait in line.

3) Don’t get discouraged – the E3 really is designed to make life easier for you and your employer. Finding a job is possible, it just takes time and energy.

Good luck!