What You Need to Know About Sponsoring a Work Visa


One of the most important assets of a successfully run business is its employees. If the employees are skilled and knowledgeable the business is far more likely to run efficiently and most importantly cost effectively. Due to this, companies are always in search of both qualified and skilled workers who skills and expertise will add to the success of a business.

In order to find the best employee for a business, employers are not restricted to only employing workers who are already United States citizens or lawful permanent residents. In order to hire the most qualified employees can hire skilled employees, employers may hire employees from outside of the United States to move here for a temporary time period.

If a business is looking to bring on further expertise to better their business, they can hire non-immigrants to work in specialty occupations. These specialty occupations allow for skilled workers to obtain an H1-B visa which allows them to move to and reside in the United States for up to 6 years.

Who is Eligible for an H-1B Visa?

Specialty Occupations. Often, companies file an application for individuals to come to the United States to perform services in specialty occupations such as IT, finance, medicine, engineering and science fields. These positions usually require a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in the specialty field. (USCIS)

Department of Defense Cooperative Research and Development Projects. “Individuals who will be engaged in cooperative research and development projects administered by the U.S. Department of Defense are eligible.” (USCIS)

Fashion Models. “Individuals who are fashion models of distinguished merit and ability are eligible.” (USCIS)

Requirements for H-1B Visa

1. There must be an employer-employee relationship.

2. The job must qualify as a specialty occupation that meets the following USCIS criteria:

  • A bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent is normally the minimum requirement for the particular position;
  • The degree requirement is common for the position in the industry, or the job is so complex or unique that it can only be performed by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the position;
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

3. The job must be in a specialty that the employee has experience in or is their actual field of study.

4. The employer must submit evidence that a labor condition application has been filed with and certified by the U.S. Department of Labor.

5. The employee must be paid at minimum the actual or prevailing wage for the occupation, whichever is higher.

6. An H-1B visa number must be available at the time of filing the petition, unless the petition is exempt from numerical limits.

Costs Involved for Sponsoring an H-1B Visa:

There are varying fees and costs that will need to be paid to the Department of Homeland Security depending on the size of the business employing the non-immigrant worker. These fees and costs are mainly dependent on a business having more or less than 50 employees.

If the business has less than 25 employees their fees are based on the following criteria:

If a business has more than 25 employees their fees are based on the following criteria:

  • Filing Fee – $460
  • American Competitiveness and Workplace Improvement Act of 1998 – $1,500
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee – $500

If a business has more than 50 employees their fees are based on the following criteria:

  • Filing Fee – $460
  • American Competitiveness and Workplace Improvement Act of 1998 – $4,000
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee – $500

Due to the confusing nature of fee schedules as well as statutes regulating immigration and hiring practices of a non-immigrant worker, many businesses will hire an immigration attorney to save on costs and effectively guide them through this process.

Salary of an H1-B Visa Holder

As companies are hiring non-immigrants to work in a specialty fields, the federal government requires companies to pay a minimum salary of $60,000 to their H1-B visa holders. This $60,000 salary is merely the minimum amount though and the H1-B visa holders should be paid the actual or prevailing amount for their specialty occupation.

An H1-B visa holder cannot be underpaid due to their citizenship status. This means employers cannot hire foreign workers to come in and perform a job at a significantly lower wage than the economic standard.
The actual or prevailing wage requirement prevents companies from undercutting U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

When it comes to obtaining an H1-B visa, time is not on your side. The USCIS opens up 85,000 H1-B visas per year on April 1st of every year. For the last 17 years, within one week of opening, all 85,000 visas will have been given out. Having an experienced attorney assist you and ensure that all of the necessary paperwork has been gathered and correctly filled out may be the determining factor in obtaining an H1-B visa or not.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which types of workers can receive an H1-B visa?

There are three types of workers who can receive an H1-B visa: specialty occupations, Department of Defense cooperative research and development projects, and fashion models.
Examples of specialty occupation fields are: engineering, medical, science, IT and mathematics.

Q: How long does an H1-B visa last?

An H1-B visa is valid for three years, but it can be renewed for another 3 years once the first three year period has expired.

Q: Do I need to hire a lawyer to obtain an H1-B visa?

Employers are not required to hire a lawyer to assist them in obtaining an H1-B visa, but many businesses choose to hire an experienced lawyer to ensure the process runs both smoothly and cost efficiently.

Q: What is the minimum income required to sponsor an immigrant?

Currently the minimum income required to sponsor an immigrant is $60,000. This does not mean that the employee is limited to making this amount, rather it is the federal minimum salary and the employee must be paid the actual or prevailing wage for their job.

Call our Immigration team at (480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.

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