Filing H-1B Petitions

by : John Mei

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will accept H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2009 on April 1, 2008 for jobs starting on October 1, 2008. Mistakes in filing procedure or including improper filing fees will cause the rejection of an H-1B petition. Such rejections may have dire consequences for your H-1B candidate and your company. Here are four common mistakes to avoid.

Mistake #1 Thinking You Have Plenty of Time to File: Lessons from History

Filing H-1B petitions for delivery at USCIS service centers on April 1, 2008 is no longer an option. This past April thousands of employers saw their petitions rejected because they did not file early enough. On the very first day H-1B petitions were being accepted this April, USCIS received 133,000 petitions seeking one of the 65,000 available H-1B slots. Those employers whose petitions arrived on the second day of filing were rejected because the H-1B quota had already been met. Do not be one of those to get rejections because you filed too late. Early document preparation is essential to making timely filed H-1B petitions.

Mistake # 2 Filing with the Incorrect USCIS Service Center

Filing a petition with the incorrect USCIS Service Center will result in a rejection. A petition is filed with the California Service Center if the temporary employment will be in the following states: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, or Wyoming.

A petition is filed with the Vermont Service Center if the temporary work will be performed in: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia.

When the temporary employment will be in different states, the state where your company is located will determine the Service Center for submission of the petition. For example, if the beneficiary will work in Arizona and Texas, and your company is located in California, file your H-1B petition with the California Service Center.

Mistake #3 Using Non-bonded Couriers for Delivery to the California Service Center

If you send documents to the California Service Center using courier services other than the U.S. Postal Service, make sure they are a bonded carrier appearing on the Service Center’s list of approved carriers. If the private carrier is not on the Service Center list, delivery of your petition will be turned away at the entrance to the Service Center.

Mistake #4: Incorrect Filing Fees

Petitions with Incorrect filing fees will result in a rejection. Generally, an employer must pay for the H-1B Form I-129 filing fee ($320), H-1B Training Fee of either $750 or $1500 depending on the size of your company, and a Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee ($500).

If a company currently employs 1-25 full-time equivalent employees, the H-1B Training Fee is $750. Companies who employ more than 25 full-time equivalent employees will need to pay $1500. The employer must pay the H-1B Training Fee upon the initial hire and the first H-1B extension of the same employee. The H-1B Training Fee is not required for second or subsequent petitions for H-1B extension. The Fraud Prevention and Detection fee needs to be paid when the employer initially hires the employee even if he or she is currently working as an H-1B with another employer.

A simple way to remember this is that every employer needs to pay for the H-1B Training Fee twice for each H-1B employee and the H-1B Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee needs to be paid once for each H-1B employee.