Should You Accept an H-1B Sponsorship From a Small Business?

Obtaining an H-1B visa as a specialty worker is a competitive process. There are more applicants than available visas, and a random lottery to win before USCIS begins to scrutinize your petition. One of the factors that can make or break your H-1B approval is the company you choose to accept as your sponsor. Large companies are often already in the system at the Department of Labor and USCIS, but small businesses, by nature, use fewer H-1B employees. Should you accept an offer of H-1B sponsorship from a lesser-known company? We’ll explain the pros and cons here.

What Sponsorship for an H-1B Visa Means

When a US-based employer has a vacancy that someone can only fill with special skills, they can request permission to hire a foreign worker with that knowledge. Before the employer gets to this point, they must complete a few steps that show evidence that they tried to hire a native US citizen but were unsuccessful.

Once ready to request a foreign nonimmigrant employee, they submit a Labor Condition Approval form to the Department of Labor. This form is a serious step. When completing it, the employer attests to multiple declarations, including the previous attempts to hire a US citizen and the willingness and ability to pay the foreign worker a prevailing wage.

Because the prevailing wage is often more than a small business can afford, this is a big decision. The business can’t simply claim they’ll pay the foreign worker. They must submit financial evidence of the ability to do so for the length of the visa (an initial three years, with an optional three-year extension).

Additionally, offering to sponsor a foreign worker comes with other costs. The employer must pay all H-1B fees, including attorney costs, which can add up to thousands of dollars. The costs are not always refundable if the employee they chose to sponsor isn’t approved for the visa after USCIS reviews the paperwork.

The H-1B Process is Complicated

The vicious cycle of competing with larger companies often means a small business loses its ground early in the H-1B process. These businesses want to hire highly skilled workers that could help them grow. Still, these talented individuals are frequently scooped up by larger corporations that can offer more money and benefits.

More than half of H-1B applications never pass the first stages because it’s complex. Small companies must complete copious forms and submit detailed financial documents and evidence of legitimacy. 

Only 65,000 visas are allotted for first-time applicants, with 20,000 additional provided for those with advanced degrees, and hundreds of thousands of petitions are filed each year. By the time small businesses complete the necessary information, there aren’t enough visas to file for.

More Risk Than Reward

Small businesses and startups often give up before they really start trying to hire foreign workers. It takes significant resources and funds to go through the process, and the possibility of rejection without refunds is daunting.

If these smaller companies could retain the talent they needed to compete with larger companies, it would improve the US economy and make the H-1B visa allocations fairer. But right now, the process is too complicated and expensive for many smaller owners to consider feasible.

The cost involved in hiring an H-1B worker is already close to $10,000, including the Public Law fee for companies with more than 50 employees and the optional $2,500 premium processing fee. However, those rates are set to increase after this year. Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure a successful petition. However, the fees are non-refundable if the chosen worker isn’t selected.

It’s easy to understand why these obstacles can deter a small business owner from attempting to hire a foreign worker. But it’s also clear why those skilled individuals would be hesitant about choosing to accept a sponsorship from a small business.

What’s Next?

The key to any successful H-1B petition is using an immigration legal expert like Visa2US. Whether you’re working with a large company or a small business, dealing with immigration paperwork and government officials is extremely complex. The smallest mistake can cost you everything you’ve done up to that point.

With a legal expert, hiring a foreign worker or completing your paperwork to obtain an H-1B visa is simplified. Our friendly professionals at Visa2US know what the process is and can guide you along your journey, regardless of how big or small the employer may be.

We’ll share with you the next steps, what you can expect, and any potential complications you may run into due to your specific circumstances.

Contact Visa2US today to take the next steps in your H-1B visa application process. It may be a daunting prospect, but you don’t have to do it alone!

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.