H-1B Visa: Foreign nationals account for 61% of the full-time graduate students in civil engineering programs in the United States, as per the National Foundation for American Policy NFAP Policy Brief, August 2021, International Students in Science and Engineering. As a result, more and more clients in the construction industry are looking to fill professional roles in their companies with talent that is foreign-born and requires employer sponsorship to work in the United States. Both small and large entities in the industry are looking into what is required of them to sponsor a foreign candidate for H-1B status. When a current or future employee is identified who requires sponsorship, an employer is obligated to do the following:
Offer a “specialty occupation” role | H-1B Visa
Only roles which require at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field (and related fields) are eligible for H-1B status. For example, Civil Engineer and Concrete Engineer jobs requiring bachelor’s degrees in Civil Engineering or a related field would be suitable for H-1B jobs. A role that doesn’t need a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, or a role requiring too broad a range of fields or body of knowledge would not be suitable. For instance, a Superintendent job that doesn’t really need a bachelor’s degree would not be an appropriate H-1B case. The position and its qualification for H-1B status should be reviewed in advance of filing an H-1B petition.
Offer the “prevailing wage”
The U.S. Department of Labor requires payment of the higher of the actual or the prevailing wage for every H-1B employee. The DOL wage is determined by the type of job, the seniority of the job, and the worksite location. What’s more, the H-1B worker can’t be offered not exactly similarly-situated U.S. workers. A discussion regarding the necessary wage should occur prior to the H-1B lottery registration process.
Get selected in the H-1B lottery
For F-1 foreign students, employers should register them for the H-1B cap lottery in March of every year. For a chance to win an H-1B cap number and eventually convert their status to H-1B. Registered people have a less than 50% chance of being selected each lottery season. So it’s not a guarantee that a person will be selected the first time, or even the second time, they participate in the lottery. A discussion regarding timing should occur as a part of the sponsorship. Those already in H-1B status would not typically need to go through the lottery to be sponsored and timing is not usually as much of an issue.
Post Notice, which includes salary information
When the business is prepared to push ahead with the H-1B petition. The business should post a notification at the worksite or online. Which discloses the salary or a range that includes the salary, as well as other recognized data about the job.
File the H-1B petition | H-1B Visa
The H-1B petition involves numerous USCIS forms, cover and support letters, and a certified application from the DOL. The USCIS filing fees can range from $1,710 to $5,330 depending on the size of the employer. Whether there are dependent family members to include, and whether USCIS premium processing is requested. Most of these fees must be paid by the employer.
Once filed, the USCIS could ask for evidence corroborating the position’s requirements. Once approved, the USCIS could site visits to guarantee that the individual is employed at the worksite shown on the petition and is being paid the prevailing wage.
Notify USCIS when the person terminates
If employment is terminated, the employer must notify USCIS of the event (by letter) within a reasonable time.