H1B Visa is one of the popular nonimmigrant visas that attracts a lot of foreign workers to obtain a work permit and work in the US. There are a total of 85,000 H1B visas slots available to foreign workers every year, out of which, 65,000 are for regular quota and 20,000 are for those who got their master’s degree from US universities. In the last 8 years or so, USCIS has received more than double the available H1B quota cap. H1B Labor Condition Application (LCA) is one of the crucial steps before filing an H1B petition with USCIS. In this article, we will present you with an overview of H-1B Visa LCA. How to obtain it? and the steps involved in it.
What is LCA?
Any US company that would like to hire a foreign worker under an H1B visa has to file for a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DoL) and get it certified. LCA includes information about the nature of the position, wage level, SOC code, job title, area code, etc. A new LCA is filed to hire a new worker, renew existing employment, or transfer to a new employer. So H1B LCA is a prerequisite for filing an H1B visa petition with USCIS.
Step by Step Guide to Apply H1B LCA
Obtaining H1B LCA involves 3 basic steps as listed below, let’s look at them in detail.
Step 1 : Obtain Prevailing Wage Rates
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines a clause that hiring a foreign worker should not create any impact on U.S workers conditions and wages offered to them. To comply with INA, employers who intend to hire a foreign worker must offer relevant prevailing wage as per the specialty occupational and skills needed for the job. Employers also have to adhere to the local labor laws so that all the minimum wage rates defined by states are met, including workers conditions.
Employers have multiple options to obtain the prevailing wage. One is through Foreign Labor Certification Data Center(FLCDataCenter) that has a catalog of H1B wage levels based on Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) Codes. The other is through private wage surveys conducted by an independent authoritative source like Radford Private Wage Surveys. Employers can also use any other legitimate source of wages to determine the prevailing wage rates. Employer uses either of these and references in the Prevailing Wages source during filing of LCA.
For everyone’s convenience we have published historical data of H1B Prevailing Wages, Non-OES Wage Survey Data for the last 5 years. Check below links for more info
Step 2 : Filing H1B LCA with Dept of Labor
After the LCA is duly filled, employers can submit LCA ETA-9035 (Physical application) or ETA-9035E (electronic submission) through Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) system. Most of the employers prefer to use the LCA form, ETA-9035E, online as it is faster to file and processing times is also quick. The information presented on LCA application includes details about the position, wage rates, location, and dates of employment.
LCA application can not be submitted 6 months before the start of the employment. You need to use FLAG Online System to file H1B LCA online. In the past, it was done using iCERT System.
Step 3: H1B LCA Processing Time and Next Steps
Once H1B LCA is submitted through FLAG system, the employer or the attorney can check the status of the LCA by logging into the online account of FLAG system. It usually takes around a week for DOL to either approve the LCA or come back with any clerical or missing information issues with the submitted LCA application.
After H1B LCA is processed and adjudicated, it can have one of the following final statuses.
- Certified : It is certified by DOL and can be used to file H1B petition with USCIS
- Certified – Withdrawn : It was certified by DOL, but employer choose not to use it to file H1B petition, so they withdrew the LCA. It cannot be used for filing H1B petition anymore.
- Withdrawn : It means that employer withdrew the LCA application before the decision was made by DOL.
- Denied : DOL has adjudicated and denied the H1B LCA as it did not meet their requirements. This cannot be used for filing H1B petition.
Once the LCA is certified, employers can proceed with filing H1B petition with USCIS.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
No. Only an employer who has a presence in the US can file LCA on behalf of the foreign worker.
No. LCA is filed under different conditions. This could be new employment, transfer from one employer to another, an extension of existing employment, and cap-exempt petitions.
LCA is not specific to H-1B Visa only. It is also used for other specialty occupation visa types such as H-1B1 (Chile and Singapore), and E-3 (Australian).
Yes. Certified H1B LCA is valid for a maximum period of 3 years or employment end date whichever comes first.
No. One LCA can be used to hire multiple foreign workers. However, all of those foreign workers will be subjected to the conditions on the LCA. For example, the prevailing wage rate is common to all those foreign workers and their job titles, location, etc are similar.
The H1B LCA Case Number has total 15 Characters and in format : I-XXX-XXXXX-XXXXXX. It starts with upper case I followed by 3 digits, then 5 digits and ending with 6 digit number. All separated by hyphen like I-200-10216-614928.
Typically, the employer or the immigration attorney at your organization should provide you with the complete LCA application that is submitted to FLAG system. This is the same as the ETA-9053E form. FLAG system will allot a unique number to each of the LCA submitted and that is your LCA case number.
DOL publishes LCA data quarterly in their performance data hub. One can download the files and search for more details about a specific LCA case number. For everyone’s convenience, we have built LCA search here at h1bgrader.com, which can be used to search based on LCA case number, or company name, or job title, or location.
What has been your experience filing H1B LCA ? Share your thoughts in comments below.