USCIS H1B Approvals vs H1B LCA Approvals Difference?

If you are new to the H1B Visa process, it can be very confusing when someone talks about H1B approvals, as they may talk about two approvals. One is from USCIS, and the second one is from the US Department of Labor. Most of the time, the total H1B filings by a company are different for H1B LCAs vs. H1B approvals with USCIS. In this article, we will dive into the details on the same.

What is H1B LCA filing with US Department of Labor?

H1B Labor Condition Application(LCA) is an application that is filed with US Department of Labor(DOL), when they want to hire a foreign worker in the US to do any speciality occupation work. Companies file H1B LCA using the Form ETA-9035/ 9035E. Most of the H1B LCA applications are filed online using the FLAG (Foreign Labor Application Gateway) System by the DOL.

The H1B LCA application basically has information about the H1B job that the company is planning to hire. It has details such as below

  • H1B Job Location
  • Standard Occupation Classification(SOC) Code
  • How many positions are hired
  • H1B Salary that they plan to pay for the position
  • The level of experience required for the offered position
  • Details of the company representatives and Legal representatives

Many other details related to the H1B job position. You can read more at What is H1B LCA, Guide to filing LCA.

The critical thing to note is that H1B LCA is related to a Job Position and can be filed for more than one position. There is nothing that is specifically tied to a particular applicant. It is very generic and related to the specialty skilled worker job posting.

H1B LCA Approvals Meaning?

When someone talks about H1B LCA approvals, they are talking about the H1B LCA application approvals by the US Department of Labor(DOL). There are four different statuses in H1B LCAs: Certified, Certified-Withdrawn, Withdrawn, and Denied. If an H1B LCA is approved, it will have the status of “Certified.”

A company can use an H1B LCA or not use it. If they want to withdraw an LCA for a position, they can also withdraw. This is why you see all four statuses. Again, the H1B LCAs are not tied to an individual per se; they are the H1B job position approvals from the US Department of Labor.

What is H1B Petition filing with USCIS?

After an H1B LCA is approved for an H1B job position, then the company can file an H1B petition to fill that H1B position. The H1B petition is filed with USCIS with the details of an individual who would meet all the requirement as listed on the H1B LCA.

The H1B petition filed with USCIS for an H1B position has details such ask below

  • Completed H1B petition related Application form, which is Form I-129
  • Supporting documentation for the Job position
  • Approved H1B LCA for the position
  • Applicant related documentation such as education, experience certificates

The important thing to note is that H1B petition filed with USCIS is specific to an Individual. Unlike H1B LCA, one petition cannot be filed for multiple job positions.

What is USCIS H1B Approval?

The H1B approval from USCIS corresponds to the H1B Petition approval filed with USCIS. When someone says, a company had 100 H1B approvals from USCIS, it means that they had 100 H1B petition approvals that correspond to 100 individuals.

Most of the H1B petitions are either approved or denied. While technically, one can withdraw an H1B petition as needed, but most of the times, it is not done. USCIS usually gives out total counts on new approvals, continued approvals, new denials and continued denials. Basically, continued approvals or denials means, decisions related to petitions filed for extensions, transfers, etc.

Why USCIS H1B Approvals Count differs from H1B LCA Approvals Count?

If you look at the H1B LCA approval numbers of any company and compare them with USCIS H1B approval numbers, most of the times, they are different. Most of the times, USCIS approval counts would be lower than the H1B LCA approval count.

The simple reason for the difference in the counts is that, companies apply for H1B LCA for a speciality occupation job position. If anything changes with the position based on their needs in the company, then they may choose to withdraw them and not end up filing H1B Petition. In such cases, the H1B LCA approval did not correspond to an equivalent USCIS H1B Approval. So, the counts will be different.

Also, sometimes, more than one position can be filed in an H1B LCA and in that cases, one H1B LCA can result in multiple H1B petitions that will be filed with USCIS. In this case, the H1B Approval counts will be higher than the H1B LCA count as the H1B LCA was applied for more than one job position.

On H1BGrader, we show both of these numbers and their approval rates for a company so that you can see and compare them. In general, you should always look at the H1B approvals by USCIS to judge a company’s real filings.

Below is the screenshot of Microsoft Company’s H1B Approval Data. If you see the H1B LCA approvals for FY 2022, they stood at 11,402. But, the USCIS total count of approvals and denials equaled only 7,283. There is a huge difference in the counts. So, technically, not all H1B LCAs were used up to file H1B petitions. A good amount of them were not used.

H1B LCA Approvals vs. USCIS H1B Approvals
H1B LCA Approvals vs. USCIS H1B Approvals

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