Application Process-Office of International Education - Carnegie Mellon University

Application Process

2-part Process and Timeline.

The application for H-1B status is a two-part process: first, the Labor Condition Application (LCA) process through the U.S. Department of Labor, and second, the application for H-1B status to the USCIS. OIE advises people to plan for at least 6 months for the processing of the H-1B from beginning to end - from gathering relevant materials, processing the LCA, submitting the H-1B application, and waiting for USCIS response. Processing times at USCIS Service Centers vary greatly and change throughout the year. Ask for updated information on processing times in the region where you will be employed. USCIS offers "premium processing" of H-1B requests; for an extra $1,225 fee and with the Premium Processing form, the USCIS guarantees response within 15 days. Even with Premium Processing, OIE recommends 2 months for the whole related process from beginning to end.

The LCA

The Labor Condition Application ("LCA") requires the employer to certify through the U.S. Department of Labor that the wage which will be paid to the employee is a fair and equitable wage in the region. This process is meant to ensure that U.S. workers are not undercut by international workers and also protects international workers from being exploited. The employer also agrees to abide by fair and legal labor practices. (Note: the LCA process for H-1B status is an entirely different process that the Labor Certification for employment-based permanent resident and does not involve proof that no US citizen or permanent resident is qualified and ready to do the job.)

H-1B application and approval

To apply for H-1B status on behalf of an employee, the employer petitions the USCIS using form I-129, other required forms, the H-1B fees of $460 and $500, the approved Labor Condition Application, letter of request from the employer, and support materials showing the employee's qualifications for the "specialty occupation." The support materials will likely include items such as: the employee's resume, copies of academic credentials, proof of relevant professional experience, letters of reference, proof of publications, and copies of current non-immigrant documents.

The USCIS usually approves the application or requests additional information. An Approval Notice is mailed by the USCIS to the employer and/or the attorney who represents the employer. The employer or attorney gives to the employee a copy of the Approval Notice, the new original I-94 card, the approved LCA, and a copy of the USCIS Form I-129. The employer keeps the original Approval Notice.

Cost and Fees

The basic H-1B application fee is $460 and must be submitted with all petitions. A $500 "anti fraud"; fee must be paid with all H-1B petitions except for requests for extensions by the same H-1B employer. Private companies must also pay a "training fee" of $1,225 with each petition. University employers (including Carnegie Mellon) are not required to pay the "training fee." In addition, premium processing (if utilized) is $1,225; this service and fee are optional. Further, dependents already in the U.S. and wishing to change status to H-4, must submit the fee of $370 with the Request for Change of Non-immigrant Status. NOTE: The fees must be paid by the employer; the employee cannot pay. When an attorney is hired to process an H-1B petition, attorneys fees are charged - expect upwards of $1,500 depending on different circumstances.

Who does the application process?

Private companies will typically use an in-house attorney or will hire an immigration attorney to prepare the H-1B application. Attorney fees for an H-1B application begin at around $1,500 and go up depending on a variety of circumstances. Most larger universities have staff within the university who prepare the H-1B application.  At CMU, OIE prepares and submits H petitions for some cases while pre-approved attorneys file the remainder of the cases.

Last Updated On: December 2016