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Of, course, to some extent this depends on what you’re sponsoring the employee for – whether you’re sponsoring for a non-immigrant visa or permanent residence and the type of non-immigrant visa or permanent residence case all factor into the cost. While we suggest that you consult us for fees on a specific case, we’ll try to provide a general idea here to assist you in determining feasibility. Most non-immigrant visas cost $3,000 to $8,000 in legal fees through our office, with most (H-1Bs and L-1s, for instance) being at the low end of this. Most permanent residence cases range from $7,000 to $15,000 in legal fees over the course of the case, again with most cases clustered at the low end of the spectrum. There will normally also be minor expenses associated with the case (postage and express mail, perhaps some photocopying), which generally run from $25 to $75. Where one employer seeks to process multiple cases, for various employees, legal fee discounts may often be negotiated depending upon volume. In addition to legal fees, most filings with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State require processing fees. With some exceptions (notably the H-1B non-immigrant visa and the Application to Adjust of Status to Permanent Residence, which each carry additional fees above the normal filing fees), most USCIS filings carry processing fees in the $300-$500 range. For Department of State filings, fees generally range from $150 to $500. The U.S. Department of Labor, the agency where Labor Condition Applications and Labor Certification Applications are filed, does not at this time require filing fees.
For the most part, this is a subject for negotiation between employer and employee. With regard to legal fees, this is almost completely a matter between employer and employee. However, there are situations – both for non-immigrant [temporary] visas and for certain permanent residence processes, where the employer is required to pay. For non-immigrant petitions where a prevailing or actual wage is required and monitored by the Department of Labor (cases requiring a Labor Condition Application, such as the H-1B and the E-3 non-immigrant visas): the Department of Labor, if auditing the employer to ensure compliance, would reduce the employee’s salary by the amount the employee has paid in legal fees for the purposes of determining whether the employer is complying with the prevailing wage requirements of the Labor Condition Application. For an employee to pay these fees, that employee must be making a sufficient amount over the required wage to account for whatever he or she pays toward the process. As far as government processing fees, the result is similar: this is primarily an issue for negotiation between employer and employee with the caveat that fees paid by an employee in cases requiring a Labor Condition Application will be considered by the Department of Labor in evaluating compliance (as discussed above for legal fees -again, the employee must be making enough over the required wage to account for anything paid). Here though, there is an additional exception in H-1B cases where the ACWIA/Education fee is required. This ACWIA/Education fee, which is $1500 where the employer has 26 or more employees and $750 where the employer has 25 or fewer employees, must be paid by the employer in all cases. The employee may not pay the Education/ACWIA fee directly or through reimbursement to the employer On the permanent side, all fees associated with PERM-based labor certification application – including legal fees and all advertising fees – must be paid by the employer, without exception. There can not legally be any agreement for the reimbursement of these fees by the foreign national to the employer.
Yes – the time of the manager or HR person responsible for the case. Primarily, this will simply be time spent reviewing, handling and signing documents and asking us any questions the company representative may have. Moistly, this will be negligible and will be spread out over the course of the case. In the case of a labor certification-based permanent residence application, the responsible HR person or manager will likely spend significant additional time towards the beginning of the application process reviewing the resumes of applicants for the position and interviewing all potentially qualified applicants.
First, that from the perspective of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you are not “filling the position” but merely hiring a temporary employee. Any non-immigrant visa you obtain for an employee will be temporary, and it is important to be clear about this from a planning perspective regarding your future plans for the position – and possibly for the employee. Many employers institute a probationary period (frequently six months) after which a determination will be made on starting the process sponsorship of the employee for permanent residence. This determination often includes plans to change the employee’s status to a visa which permits applications for permanent residence.
Overall, as with any legally binding paperwork you sign, you are promising that the information you present in the paperwork is factually correct and that you will perform on any promises you make in the document. Precisely what promises you are making depends on the type of visa being applied for (our office would provide case-specific guidance). Normally, you are simply promising to employ the potential foreign national employee in the position described and under the terms and conditions described in the application (he or she will perform the job duties described at the location or locations specified in return for the wages and benefits promised). Certain visas carry additional responsibilities, most notably the H-1B visa.
Yes, there is a way to do this for certain types of positions. For professional positions where a college graduate is required, there are ways to hire students or recent students. While still in school, a foreign national on an F-1 student visa may obtain “curricular practical training” – work authorization to work in what is normally an intern-type position for up to 20 hours per week. After graduation, an F-1 student may obtain one year of “Optional Practical Training” – authorization to work for up to one year, full-time, in the field in which they recently received a degree. Remember that such arrangements are very limited in duration; longer-term planning is critical once the value of the employee to your enterprise is determined.
Remember that there are two major sets of facts which need to be proven before a traditional L-1 visa is granted. One set concerns the two business entities involved in the transfer (that the U.S. company is the parent or subsidiary of the foreign company, or that they are affiliates in the sense that they both share substantially the same ownership, or that one is a joint venture involving the other, or that one is a branch office of the other). The other set concerns the foreign national whose transfer to the U.S. is sought and the planned job: that they have worked for the overseas company for the required amount of time, and that the work have done abroad and that they will do in the U.S. will be in an appropriate capacity (executive, managerial or specialized knowledge, etc.) The L-1 blanket petition is different in that it breaks apart these two sets of items to be proven. The company files an L-1 blanket petition establishing all of the “first-set” concerns – the corporate interrelationships – simultaneously; every related company globally is listed in this petition. This only needs to be amended when there is a change in the related companies or their ownership relationships. When the companies recognize a need to transfer an employee from an overseas entity to the U.S. entity, a petition demonstrating only that the employee and the proposed job meet the requirements for L-1 status can be forwarded to the employee directly for presentation at the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The petition need say nothing about the corporate interrelationships beyond a mention that both are included in the approved blanket petition, and there is no need to wait for USCIS Service Center approval of a petition. Compare this to the traditional L-1 petition, where the employer must file an individual L-1 petition with the USCIS Service Center which seeks to prove both the corporate relationship and the qualifications of the planned job/desired employee for L-1 status, wait for an approval, and then wait for the employee to process for the visa through a consulate.
Unfortunately, no – only larger and more established companies. The restrictions on which companies may apply for a blanket petition pertain to the size and longevity of the company. The company’s U.S. office must be engaged in a commercial trade or service, must have existed for at least a year, and must demonstrate in the petition the existence of at least two additional domestic or foreign related organizations aside from the petitioning U.S. entity. It must also meet one of these three criteria: it must have $25 million (U.S.) in sales, it must employ 1,000 or more U.S. workers, or must have petitioned for at least 10 individual L-1 visas in the 12 month period before filing of the blanket L-1 petition. A small but high-income company may qualify, as might a large employer with relatively low income for its size or a company which handles many transfers without employing many people or having a very high income (though such a company may attract suspicion!)
An L-1 employee can be brought to the U.S. much more quickly under a blanket petition than under a traditional L-1 petition, and without the needless repetition of proving the same corporate interrelationships over and over again. Rather than making large companies which frequently transfer employees “re-invent the wheel” by proving the same corporate interrelationships with every application, a qualifying company can file just the one blanket petition listing all companies under the same corporate umbrella, their ownership interrelationships, and the percentages of ownership. This can be done in anticipation of future need for L-1 transferee personnel. When a determination of the need to transfer a qualifying overseas employee to the U.S. entity is made, the employer can skip right to the end of the process (the employee requesting a visa stamp at the consulate) by simply proving that the employee has worked for the company for one of the last three years abroad and will be performing either an executive/managerial or a specialized knowledge job in the U.S. There is no need to first apply through USCIS in the United States, and no need to again demonstrate the corporate interrelationships.
Unlike non-blanket L-1B petitions for specialized knowledge workers, the L-1 Blanket procedure can only be used where the specialized knowledge job is a professional position (i.e.: a position requiring at least a Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent). Applicants for specialized knowledge L-1 positions which require at least a Bachelor’s – and so are professional positions – may certainly use the L-1 Blanket procedure, but applicants for non-professional L-1 positions which require specialized knowledge of company policies, technologies, procedures, etc. must still use the non-blanket L-1 petition procedure through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the U.S.