LCA for H-1B Explained

Updated on April 12, 2024

The Labor Condition Application (LCA) is a crucial first step for US employers planning to hire foreign workers under the H-1B visa program. Before employing an H-1B worker, an employer must submit an LCA to the Department of Labor (DOL), confirming commitments to pay the prevailing wage, maintain suitable working conditions, notify existing employees about the hire, and ensure no labor disputes like strikes or lockouts exist at the workplace. Following LCA approval, employers can file their H-1B visa petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Proper LCA filing is vital, including accurate wage determination and compliance with public disclosure requirements, supported by resources from the DOL’s LCA filing process to facilitate accuracy and efficiency in the application, laying the groundwork for the visa petition. This blog will explore how to effectively manage the LCA process to ensure compliance and streamline your H-1B filing efforts.

30 Second Recap:

Navigating the Labor Condition Application (LCA) process is essential for employers seeking to hire foreign workers under the H-1B visa program. Understanding the purpose, framework, and requirements of the LCA is crucial for compliance and successful H-1B visa petition filing. Key aspects include prevailing wage determination, documentation requirements, and adherence to employment and wage standards. Additionally, understanding the implications of non-compliance and potential penalties is vital for employers. Frequently asked questions provide clarity on processing times, prevailing wage requirements, LCA verification, and the importance of LCA approval for H-1B visa stamping. Stay informed and ensure compliance to streamline your H-1B filing efforts and maintain legal status for foreign workers.

 

Understanding the LCA Process

Before applying for an H-1B visa to work in a specialty occupation in the United States, it’s imperative that you grasp the importance of the Labor Condition Application (LCA). This process is crucial for maintaining compliance with labor laws.

Purpose of Labor Condition Application

The Labor Condition Application is a mandatory document your employer must file with the Department of Labor (DOL). Its primary purpose is to ensure that foreign workers like you are provided wages and working conditions that are equivalent to U.S. workers. This safeguard helps prevent the erosion of labor standards.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers must adhere to various legal provisions. These include making four attestations concerning wages, working conditions, strikes or lockouts, and notification. Employers are also required to maintain a public access file containing the LCA and supporting documentation.

Filing and Documentation Requirements

To start the H-1B visa petition process, your employer must file Form ETA-9035, the official LCA form. The documentation must establish that you will be employed in a specialty occupation and provide the prevailing wage data. Upon approval, the LCA is considered certified.

Processing Times and Validity

Typically, LCA processing with the Office of Foreign Labor Certification can vary, but generally, it’s completed within 7 working days. Upon certification, the LCA is valid for a period that can range up to three years, coinciding with the validity period of your potential H-1B visa.

Need help with your H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa process is complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re struggling to understand all of the moving parts, let Stilt help. Our team of H-1B visa experts can help you make sense of all the eligibility requirements, documents, and the application process.

Employment and Wage Standards

The Labor Condition Application (LCA) for H-1B visas encompasses strict employment and wage standards to safeguard both American and foreign workers. Understanding these regulations ensures compliance and the fair treatment of employees.

Prevailing Wage Determination

Prevailing Wage is the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment. The Department of Labor (DOL) requires you to pay a wage that meets or exceeds the prevailing wage threshold determined by the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC). This determination is the first step you must complete before filing an LCA.

Working Conditions and Employee Rights

The working conditions clause in the LCA mandates that hiring a foreign worker will not adversely affect the conditions of the current employees. Additionally, your hired foreign workers, which may include fashion models, are entitled to the same working conditions and benefits offered to similarly situated U.S. workers. You’re required to inform your employees of the filing of an LCA by providing a notice or collective bargaining agreement if there’s a union bargaining representative.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with the stipulated labor laws, including but not limited to LCA denials, can lead to severe fines, sanctions, and other penalties by the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor. Cases of underpayment of wages, compromising working conditions, or displacement of US workers during a strike or lockout can trigger an investigation into your LCA practices, potentially leading to penalties or even denied applications.

LCA Approval Timelines Based on Applicant Experiences

An important early step in pursuing an H-1B transfer to a new employer is obtaining an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor. The LCA allows the new employer to legally hire the H-1B worker by verifying they will pay proper wages and working conditions.

But what are typical processing timelines for LCA approvals? One applicant asked the community:

“Does anyone know the LCA approval timeline for an H-1B transfer? Usually it takes 7 business days for an LCA to get approved but…are there any delays?”

Multiple responses provided insights based on recent experiences:

“I just got my LCA approved yesterday for an H-1B transfer. It took exactly 7 calendar days.”

“My company filed the LCA on a Monday and it was approved the following Tuesday, so 7 business days exactly.”

“I transferred my H-1B last year. The LCA took 10 calendar days to get approved, slightly longer than usual based on what I’ve read.”

So while the general guidance of 7 business days (just under 2 weeks) for LCA approval seems accurate, there can be some variance case-by-case. Most fell right within that 7-10 day window, but delays are certainly possible if the application has any issues or missing information.

One person cautioned: “The LCA approval process has been pretty bogged down the last few months, taking 10-14 calendar days regularly from what I’ve seen.”

Preparing the LCA properly and thoroughly is important, as having to address any Requests for Evidence can push timelines out even further before the final approval.

Overall, it’s wise for H-1B transfers to bake in 2-3 weeks as a reasonable estimate for getting an LCA approved by the Department of Labor based on these anecdotal experiences. Building in some buffer time avoids surprises if processing hits any snags.

Need help with your H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa process is complex, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re struggling to understand all of the moving parts, let Stilt help. Our team of H-1B visa experts can help you make sense of all the eligibility requirements, documents, and the application process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating the intricacies of H-1B Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) can prompt several questions. Below you’ll find concise answers to common queries relating to LCA processing times, prevailing wage requirements, and more to ensure you are well-informed.

What are the processing times for an H-1B Labor Condition Application?

The processing times for an H-1B LCA typically range from a few days to up to a week, depending on the workload of the Department of Labor. Electronic submissions through the FLAG system tend to be faster compared to physical applications.

What is the prevailing wage requirement for an H-1B LCA?

The prevailing wage requirement for an H-1B LCA stipulates that employers must pay non-immigrant workers at least the local prevailing wage or the actual wage paid to other employees in similar positions, whichever is higher, to ensure fair treatment.

How can one verify if an LCA has been filed by an employer?

To verify if an LCA has been filed, you can request the LCA case number from the employer and then check the status online through the Department of Labor’s FLAG system or examine public access files maintained by the employer as required by law.

What does the status of an H-1B LCA indicate?

The status of an H-1B LCA reveals where it is in the approval process. ‘Certified’ indicates approval, while ‘Denied’ means the application has not met the necessary criteria. Other statuses might include ‘In Progress,’ ‘Withdrawn,’ or ‘Expired.’

Where can one access the H-1B LCA database?

The H-1B LCA database is publicly accessible and can be viewed through the FLAG system of the Department of Labor, which maintains records of LCAs filed by employers for H-1B and other visa categories.

Is an approved LCA required for H-1B visa stamping?

Yes, an approved LCA is required for H-1B visa stamping. The consulate or embassy needs to see the LCA approval as part of determining whether the H-1B visa application complies with U.S. immigration laws and regulations.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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