Where Do I File My H-1B Application?

Filing your H-1B petition is a process full of minor and major checklists. If you miss any of the boxes, send your paperwork to the wrong place, or forget to attach something, it can result in untimely delays. Worse, an error on the wrong part of the application may mean instant denial. Since there are so many H-1B applicants each year, there is a cap on how many are approved. You want to ensure your application is completed accurately and quickly. This short guide will walk you through the essential parts of filing, so you don’t make the common mistakes that cost thousands of petitioners their potential H-1B visas.

The Basics of Filing a Petition

The first part of applying for an H-1B visa is requesting and receiving the Labor Conditions Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL). With that approval firmly in hand, the employer may now file a Form I-129 with USCIS and begin the official process of petitioning for an H-1B worker. 

The paperwork should be completed in black ink, although original signatures must be written in blue ink. Answers should be clearly stated and accurately respond to the question at hand. If there is any ambiguity or inconsistency throughout the document, the USCIS official reviewing it will return the petition with a request for more information or deny it altogether.

Any requested supporting documents must be attached. If the original is requested, that's what you must send. If something such as the original photograph of the H-1B foreign worker is requested, copies won't suffice. It's wise to talk to your immigration attorney to ensure all supporting documents are included.

Cap and Cap-Exempt Petitions

In Form I-129, Part C, a series of questions is designed to determine if the employer falls under the cap or is cap-exempt. Cap-exempt is the category that includes institutions of higher learning, some non-profit organizations, some government agencies, and some businesses affiliated with non-profits and institutions of higher learning.

If the place of employment might fall into the cap-exempt category, talk to your lawyer to find out how to do this part carefully. This label means the difference between waiting to see if your petition is chosen in the limited annual lottery and following specific dates of employment and having no wait and no limit.

Submissions in the cap-exempt category should be completed in black ink with “Exempt” written in red at the top of Form I-129. This tells the USCIS officer to differentiate between their petition and a capped application.

If you are submitting a cap petition, the top of your form should be labeled with the appropriate code, also in red ink. Codes include:

●     Regular Cap: all petitions that fall into the 65,000 cap (except those from Chile and Singapore)

●     C/S Cap: Chile and Singapore petitions that would normally be in the 65,000 regular cap

●     US Master’s: All petitions for employees with a master’s degree or higher

As an employer, you must only submit one Form I-129 for each employee. If more than one is received, they will be denied. You may have multiple employees under the same job description approved under one LCA, but they each need their individual petitions mailed in separate envelopes.

Sending Your Petition

Mailing petitions is a sensitive matter. You must send yours to the right service center and use an approved logistics facility, such as USPS, FedEx, or UPS.

Vermont and California are the service centers that process initial H-1B petitions. The correct one for yours depends on whether you’re filing cap or cap-exempt and where the place of business is located. Check the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov/i-129-addresses to ensure you’re using the right address.

If you send your petition via USPS, it goes to a PO box. The date of delivery is the date USCIS, not the post office, receives the petition. Keep this in mind and add a few days for the USCIS representatives to pick up the mail from the PO box. Generally, this occurs multiple times per day.

What’s Next?

You’re ready to send your H-1B application to USCIS, but you know the importance of ensuring it’s accurate and complete. Our immigration law experts at Visa2US are ready to help you review and finish your petition and submit it with the right documents to the correct address.

Contact us today, and we’ll answer your questions, schedule a consultation, and point you in the right direction. At Visa2US, we’ve helped countless people just like you get their H-1B visas and start moving their careers in a new direction in the United States.

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