What is the H-1B Labor Condition Application (LCA)?
A lot of international graduates working in the U.S. apply for an H-1B. The application is sent either by their employer or themselves. If you are applying yourself, the application process may seem daunting. This guide will help you better understand what an LCA is as you file for your H-1B.
Put simply, the Labor Condition Application outlines important information about the job position to ensure that foreign nationals receive fair compensations and benefits.
First, an employer must register the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) with the Department of Labor (takes 5 business days) to then be able to file for the LCA (takes 7 business days). Due to public disclosure laws, you are entitled to a copy of your LCA form once it has been filed by your prospective employer.
It is not uncommon for exceptional foreign job applicants to get through intense interview process, end up with amazing job offers, only to be denied the chance at taking the job because of their inexperience with the Labor Condition Application.
Usually, companies are equipped with enough knowledge to ensure they have filed for an LCA on time in order to petition for an H1B visa for a foreign national, but sometimes, new startups can be ignorant to the process, having never gone through it before.Being aware of the process will help you present pertinent questions to your employer about whether or not they will be able to issue you an H-1B visa on time.
The remainder of the article will go through everything you need to know so that you are ready for what is to come as you proceed with your job search to work in the United States. We will go over what an LCA is, what the application entails, processing times, and everything else you need to know to ensure you are on the right track to getting an H-1B visa granted to you.
Continue reading so that you can stay on top of your H1B visa success.
What is the Labor Condition Application?
The Labor Condition Application (LCA) outlines pertinent information about the job position that the employer is offering the foreign worker. The application requires the following information from the employer trying to sponsor an H1B visa:
Employer Information Required
- Job title, including the SOC code and title.
- Duration of the job position — maximum of 3 years
- Full time or part time position
- Location of the job position
- Salary offered for the position
- Prevailing wage for the same position in that area. (Market rate for the job position in your area)
- Total number of job positions the company has applied for through the LCA
- Contact information of Employer and Attorney
Due to public disclosure norms, the LCA also includes details on where the filed application will be posted or displayed for public viewing. This can be either at the place of employment or at the headquarters of the business sponsoring the visa.
The Labor Condition Application needs to be filed using the ETA Form 9035/9035E by the employer who wants to sponsor the foreign individuals H1B visa. This can be done electronically through the online system, iCERT Portal, of the US Department of Labor (DOL). Once this is completed, the employer will be able to petition for the H1B visa with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The same LCA form is also used when employers file for other visa types including the H1B1 visa for Chileans, the H1B1 visa for Singaporeans, and the E3 visa for Australians.
What is the Purpose of the LCA?
In the past there have been several problems of foreign workers who have been taken advantage of by employers while working in the United States. Employers can treat those from other countries unfairly by threatening workers, exploiting them, or not delivering what they have promised in their contract. Employers can easily mess around with the promised wage, worker benefits and compensation, and conditions and policies since they are dealing with foreigners who are less likely to cause problems in a foreign country.
To prevent this, and to make sure that there is an even playing field for workers, and that their fundamental working rights are protected, the US Department of Labor (DOL) requires the LCA from companies to make sure that workers have the same rights as the Americans performing the same duties for the same job in the area.
The LCA also outlines the specifics of the job so that the job position can be considered a specialty occupation, in accordance with the H1B visa and makes sure that the company sponsoring the visa qualifies to petition for the H-1B visa.
What Does the Employer Declare or Attest by Filing an LCA?
In the LCA form, employers attest that they will abide by the labor laws and be compliant in the four areas listed below.
Four Areas of Compliance
- There is no strike or lockout or any other work stoppage for the designated occupation at the place of employment while the LCA is filed.
- The foreign worker will be paid equally in respect to other employees’ wage rates in the vicinity of the offered job location. The foreign worker will also be paid during non-productive time and be provided the same benefits as American workers.
- The employer will provide the same working conditions as American workers. Working conditions at the location, especially hours, vacation time, working shifts, etc., will not be negatively impacted by the employment of a foreign national.
- The employer will provide the LCA to the employed workers in the location of the occupation and the employee will be made known of the existence of the respective unions, if any. Also, the employer will have to post the LCA in noticeable locations where the H1B worker will be employed, or will have to distribute the LCA individually to all employees in the location of the occupation where the foreign national will work.
Remember: you are entitled to your LCA form by your employer. They should give it to you if they are planning on filing for your H1B visa. If you do not receive the LCA form, you can request it from the employer. You can also see postings of LCA’s on a company’s website to check and see if yours is there. Companies are legally obligated to show give you a copy of the LCA form they have filed on your behalf.
The Department of Labor also falls under public disclosure laws and is another place where you can find published data on Labor Condition Application. On their webpage you can find LCA approvals and denials by the Department of Labor. Do not mistake the acceptance of an LCA as a granting of an H-1B visa! The Department of Labor only discloses whether or not an LCA has been approved. The United States Citizenship Immigration Services would be the place to check on any disclosed data about H-1B data.
Processing times to consider when filing an LCA
The end of the fiscal year lands on the first of April, so you have to keep this into consideration if you are planning on filing an LCA in the month of March, especially towards the end of the month. The iCERT system that you use to file the LCA can be overrun and occupied during this time, which can cause system outages and longer wait times to get your LCA processed.
It is always a good idea to be ahead of the game when filing for your LCA and do it as early as possible to avoid delays. The earlier the better, as the second half of March almost guarantees outages and server delays.
In order to file for an LCA with the US Department of Labor, a company will need to verify their Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) with the Department of Labor (DOL). If your employer has never filed for an LCA or used the Department of Labor’s filing system, then the system may not recognize the FEIN of the employer. In this case, you would have to calculate an extra 5 business days for the employer to register the FEIN with the DOL.
Not factoring this into the equation can run you over the time limit of getting your LCA processed in time. This is what some startup companies are unaware of and should be mindful of when wanting to hire a foreign national for an H1B visa. Make sure you get your paperwork filed and processed on time so that you do not ruin your chances at employment in the United States.
For regular cases and normal processing times, especially for those employers sponsoring an H-1B that have previously sponsored one before, or those who have been through the process of filing an LCA, it normally takes up to 7 working days to certify the LCA.
Wrapping it all up…
Remember that completing a proper LCA in time is an important step in your hopes of attaining your H-1B visa. In order to petition for an H-1B visa with the USCIS, you must first have your LCA filed and approved with the US Department of Labor and include a copy of the certified LCA in your H-1B application. It is important to ask your employer if they are aware of the processing times and what needs to be done in order for you to be able to accept the job offer extended to you.
We hope this article explained the LCA process thoroughly and removes any processing time doubts you may have had before. If something was left out, or you want to contribute a comment about the Labor Condition Application process, please let us know in the comments section below so that other readers can learn from your wisdom!
If you have any more questions on how to file an LCA, or anything involving the H-1B process for that matter, drop them down below and we will be sure to get back to you as soon as possible!