After a job is offered and accepted by an alien, the process of obtaining H-1B visa/status can begin. One can apply for H1B visa/status six months prior to the commencement of the petitioned employment, but no earlier.
For example, if the starting date of your employment as an H-1B holder is 11/30/06, then you can submit an application for H-1B visa as early as 5/30/06. It is important to apply for the visa as early as possible (for the time being, this means as early as 6 months before your start date) due to the fact that the H-1B quota is currently being used up very quickly. Given the constraint on the H-1B quota, it is always best for employers or HR professionals to expedite the recruitment process and sometimes push the starting date of employment forward.
The following are regular steps involved in trying to obtain H-1B status:
First, we check the prevailing wage from a database on the Department of Labor (DOL) website. If that wage level is higher than the one offered by the prospective employer, then we will seek wage determination from the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC) for the state where the intended employment will be located. If the wage level is higher than the offered one, we may also search for other wage sources. Please note that in many cases finding the appropriate prevailing wage for a specific H-1B position may require professional advice from an experienced immigration attorney.
Labor Condition Application (LCA) will bind the employer to pay the prevailing wage, offer the same benefits to H-1B visa holders as other employees, and assure that employment of the alien will not negatively affect the conditions of other workers, including workers on strike involving the petitioned occupation. LCA processes usually take one week.
USCIS will need approximately 2-4 months to adjudicate the H-1B petition and issue an H-1B approval. Premium Processing ($1225 fee) is an option that will ensure that USCIS responds with an initial decision on the H-1B petition within 15 calendar days. This fee may be paid by the employer or employee.
For more information on H-1B Visa, please refer on one of the following topics below:
H-1B Visa General Issues
H-1B Visa Related Articles