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Filing an H-1B petition correctly is essential as errors on certain parts of the application can result in immediate denial of the application. The number of H-1B applicants has grown exponentially in recent years while the “H1B Cap” has remained the same. To read more about the H-1B cap in recent years please read our articles on the 2013 & 2014 H-1B Cap.

Filing a Petition

To initiate a filing of an H-1B petition, after filing the LCA with the Department of Labor, an employer files the H-1B petition with USCIS on Form I-129.Employers should complete the petition in black ink, while all original signatures should appear in blue ink. Ambiguous, missing, or incomplete answers can delay the approval process; employers should ensure that questions have been answered accurately and consistently throughout the petition, and that all necessary supporting documents have been attached.

Cap Exempt Workers

Part C of Form I-129 asks employers a series of questions that determine whether a petitioner is “cap exempt.” Employers who are cap exempt include: institutions of higher education, certain non-profit organizations, and others who will be employing the H-1B alien to perform employment duties at other cap exempt institutions. Cap status is particularly important to USCIS processing, so employers should take care to establish the correct cap status in their petitions. Employers submitting cap exempt petitions should use red ink to label the top of Form I-129 with the word “Exempt.” Employers submitting cap petitions should also label the Form I-129 in red ink, using the following codes:

  • Regular Cap – petitions subject to the regular 65,000 cap, with the exception of Chile/Singapore cap petitions.
  • C/S Cap – Chile/Singapore H-1B1 petitions.
  • U.S. Master’s – petitions subject to the 20,000 exemption for employees with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

Employers should not submit more than one Form I-129 for any individual employee—doing so may result in automatic denial of those petitions. When using a single mailing to submit petitions for multiple employees, employers should place each individual petition (along with supporting documents) into its own envelope.

Where to Mail Petitions

There are two USCIS service centers (Vermont and California) that process H-1B petitions; employers file at one of these two locations depending, among other things, on whether the petition is “cap exempt” or “non-cap exempt”. USCIS specifies appropriate filing locations on their website at http://www.uscis.gov/i-129-addresses.

Depending on the method of delivery, additional requirements may apply. For deliveries by U.S. Postal Service, mailings initially go to a P.O. Box; however, USCIS considers petitions filed when they arrive at USCIS. For this reason, employers using the U.S. Postal Service should allow time for USCIS to retrieve mailings from the P.O. Box (usually done several times per day). For deliveries by bonded private couriers (FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.), USCIS accepts deliveries between 6:00AM and 5:00PM local time. USCIS will not accept hand deliveries from employers or deliveries from non-bonded private couriers.

We Are Ready To Assist You

Interested in filing an H-1B visa petition? Contact us today. We have extensive experience in filing H-1B visas and know just how to help you. Call us at 703-594-4040 or contact us online for a free consultation!