H Working Visas

San Francisco H Visa Immigration Lawyer

California H-1 Work Visa for Professional Occupations Attorney

The immigration law firm of Litwin & Smith assists United States employers and foreign nationals in obtaining H visas. These visas enable foreign professionals to work in the U.S. temporarily on a short- or long-term basis. Contact us if you are a foreign professional seeking an H visa, or an employer wishing to hire a non-U.S. citizen for employment in California.

H-1 Work Visas for Professional Occupations

Our attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable in all opportunities and requirements associated with non-immigrant H visas.

  • H-1B visa: Temporary professionals holding college degrees or years of experience, or temporary specialized workers may qualify for an H-1 visa, such as the H-1B visa. To qualify for a temporary professional H-1 visa, there are four basic requirements: there must usually be an employer; a college degree; a position that requires that degree; and payment of prevailing wage. We assist professionals such as engineers, accountants, architects, and teachers (and their U.S. employers) in fulfilling the requirements for a temporary professional H-1 visa.
  • H-2 visa: We also assist individuals in obtaining H-2 temporary worker visas. These involve a temporary situation and an employer who needs a specific person to fulfill a specialized need. An example might be a "chef trainer" who will train kitchen personnel for a limited period of time, a seasonal resort worker, etc.
  • H-3 visa: Finally, some of our clients obtain H-3 visas as temporary trainees. Such persons are invited by employers to work for a salary for a limited period of time for the express purpose of training.

The H-1B visa is one of the most coveted non-immigrant visas. It is an appealing visa option due to the ability of foreign nationals to have dual intent (the intent to enter the U.S. on a temporary work visa and the intent to eventually obtain an adjustment of status to an immigrant visa). However, the U.S. has a cap each year on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued — and this cap is reached quickly each year. Efficient, accurate filing of your visa application is paramount to the success of your case.

About Us

We have been very successful in preparing and obtaining H1B nonimmigrant visas for employers and subsequent immigrant visas and green cards for their employees on H1B. We prepare hundreds of such petitions each year. We offer excellent service at a competitive price. Of course, price isn't everything. Timeliness, responsiveness, professionalism, and expertise are all part of providing an employer quality guidance and representation. We are known for our availability, responsiveness, timeliness, professionalism and expertise.

H1B process

The H1B employment visa is limited to 65,000 new visa applications per year, called the H1B cap. The soonest an employer may file an H1B petition is April 1, for an October 1, start date. We begin the H1B petition preparation process in February for the coming April 1 filing. Last year the H1B cap was reached April 1st. You might find out more about the H1B visa on our website.

Four Steps

The H1B petition process is in 4 steps: LCA preparation, posting, and submission; H1B petition and company letter preparation; H1B submission with supporting documentation; H1B approval.

Additional Documentation

Start-ups, small U.S. businesses, and consulting companies require additional documentation above and beyond the standard H1B petition. Additionally, positions offered to foreign nationals employees require attestations regarding, job duties, work-site, wage, and technologies, source code, and technical data made available to the employee. But, no worries. We will guide you. So, that your petition will be successful.

H1B Specialty Occupation

To qualify as a H-1 temporary professional in a specialty occupation, there are four basic requirements that the H1B employment require:

(1) A baccalaureate or higher degree or equivalent is normally the minimum requirement for entry into the particular position
(2) Degree requirement is common in industry in parallel positions among similar organizations or alternatively that the particular position is so complex or unique that a degree is required;
(3) Employer normally requires a degree or equivalent; or
(4) Nature of specific duties so specialized and complex that knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with attainment of degree.

H1B Employee Qualifications

To qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation the professional must meet one of the following criteria:

* Have completed a U.S. bachelor's or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
* Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's or higher degree in the specialty occupation
* Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
* Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.**

The Prevailing Wage

There is also the requirement that the employer pay the prevailing wage. Which is initially obtained by filing an labor condition application.

We assist the employer to identify an appropriate occupation and wage using information provided by the employer. We will use our best efforts to assist you. However, we cannot guarantee that the occupation or wage level is one the DOL will accept should the DOL audit the H1B wage.

H1B petitions require the employer to file a labor condition application to be certified by the Dept. of Labor that the employer will pay the H1B employee at least the prevailing wage appropriate to the occupation for the duties stated. We use the DOL OES Wage Survey from the DOL on-line flcdatacenter. The OES wage is routinely used for H1B petitions. However, it is not the best or the only wage source available.

One alternative is an independent employer wage survey. An independent employer wage survey for the area is usually about 10% lower and may cost a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. The wage survey often takes about two weeks to obtain. However, it is not the best or the only wage source available.

For the H1B prevailing wage, only the DOL iCERT requested prevailing wage is a safe harbor wage. Safe harbor is the term used to refer to the DOL's regulation that states that "In all situations where the employer obtains the prevailing wage determination (PWD) from the National Processing Center (NPC), the Department will deem that PWD as correct as to the amount of the wage." Therefore, the employer is "safe" from investigations questioning the validity of the prevailing wage. The prevailing safe harbor wage may be obtained from the DOL by request using the DOL iCERT system (this safe harbor wage takes 2-3 months).

Employer's Wage Responsibility and H1B Related Fees & Costs

An employer may consider H1B costs when negotiating the employee's wage. But, may not pay an H1B employee less than the wage paid to any other employee doing the same duties at the same level.

DOL regulations require three things regarding the wage: 1) the wage paid an HB worker must be at least the prevailing wage appropriate to the occupation of the position for the duties performed and may not be less than the wage paid to any other employee in the same position; 2) the employer may not require the employee to pay any H1B related fees that reduce the wage below the required wage; and 3) the employer may not require the employee to pay the fraud fee of $500 or the ACWIA training fee of $1,500 for companies with 26 or more employees or $750 for companies with 25 employees or less.

Fees & Costs

USCIS filing fees are about $1,575 for companies with 25 or less employees and $2,325 for companies with more than 25 employees. Other costs may include FedEx charges and evaluations of foreign degrees as equivalent to a U.S. degree. Current USCIS H1B petition processing times is approximately 5 - 6 months. The USCIS will premium process the petition with a decision in 15 business days for an additional fee of $1,225.

We at Litwin & Smith represent employers in most of the various industries represented around the Bay Area and across the U.S. We are a boutique immigration law firm representing large and small business clients. Our firm is a nationally recognized premiere immigration firm. Mr. Litwin is a renowned leader in obtaining employment based nonimmigrant visas and green cards through labor certification. He taught most of the immigration practitioners in the field today. We routinely provide immigration assistance to foreign nationals from all over the world. To find out more detailed information pertaining to you specifically, and to determine a strategy based on the letter of the law, I recommend you schedule a consultation appointment with Mr. Litwin to discuss the H-1B process in greater detail. As I mentioned, the fee for the consultation appointment is $150.00, and you will be quite pleased with the amount of information Mr. Litwin will provide.

Litwin & Smith specializes in immigration law. Our firm is nationally recognized as a premiere immigration firm. We routinely provide immigration assistance to foreign nationals from all over the world. We have offices conveniently located in Santa Clara, South San Francisco and San Francisco. Telephone consultations are also conveniently arranged for those out of our area.

Experienced U.S. Immigration Lawyers in California

At Litwin & Smith, we are accomplished at helping both individuals and employers meet all requirements for H visa applications. We have an extraordinarily high approval rate for our immigrant and business clients.

However, when annual caps have already been reached, we explore other visa options that enable clients to achieve their goals. For example, foreign professionals who are nationals of Chile or Singapore may qualify for an H-1B1 visa. Likewise, Australian professionals may qualify under the equivalent E-3 visa. With over fifty years of experience, we are capable of analyzing each client's situation and identifying the most effective strategy based upon the current immigration laws.

For more detailed immigration information, please view our articles:

Contact a San Francisco H Visa Immigration Attorney

Contact us for more information if you are a potential H-1 visa employee or a business wishing to hire international workers by way of H-1 visas.

Please visit our Immigration Articles page for a full listing of detailed articles regarding immigration and naturalization law.