Labor Condition Application (LCA) Specialty Occupations with the H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 Programs
The H-1B visa program allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant basis in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability. A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or the equivalent in the specific specialty (e.g. sciences, medicine, health care, education, biotechnology, and business specialties, etc.). Current laws limit the annual number of qualifying foreign workers who may be issued a visa or otherwise be provided H-1B status to 65,000 with an additional 20,000 under the H-1B advanced degree exemption. For additional information regarding the H-1B cap, cap qualifications and H-1B petitions, see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
The H-1B1 (Chile and Singapore) program allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers from Chile and Singapore in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant basis in specialty occupations. Current laws limit the annual number of qualifying foreign workers who may be issued an H-1B1 visa to 6,800 with 1,400 from Chile and 5,400 from Singapore. For information regarding the H-1B1 cap, H-1B1 cap qualifications and H-1B1 petitions, see the USCIS website or Consular sections of the Department of State website for Chile and or Singapore.
The E-3 (Australia) program allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers from Australia in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant basis in specialty occupations. Current laws limit the annual number of qualifying foreign workers who may be issued an E-3 visa to 10,500 Australian nationals seeking temporary work in specialty occupations. For information regarding the E-3 cap, E-3 cap qualifications and E-3 petitions, see the USCIS website or Consular sections of the Department of State website for Australia.
The process for obtaining a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the OFLC under the H-1B, H-1B1 (Chile and Singapore), and E-3 (Australia) programs involve the following basic steps:
Step 1: Obtain a Prevailing Wage
The required wage rate must be the higher of the actual wage rate (the rate the employer pays to all other individuals with similar experience and qualifications who are performing the same job), or the prevailing wage (a wage that is predominantly paid to workers in the same occupational classification in the area of intended employment at the time the application is filed). In addition, an employer is not permitted to pay a wage that is lower than a wage required under any other applicable Federal, State or local law.
Employers are encouraged, but not required, to obtain a prevailing wage from the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC). More information on obtaining a prevailing wage determination from the NPWC can be found here.
Step 2: Filing a LCA with the Chicago National Processing Center
Employers must submit a Labor Condition Application (Form ETA-9035/ 9035E) to the Department of Labor electronically through the FLAG system attesting to compliance with the requirements of the H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 program. LCAs must not be submitted more than 6 months before the beginning date of the period of employment. The two exceptions to electronic filing are employers with physical disabilities or those who lack Internet access and cannot electronically file the Form ETA-9035E. An employer must petition the Administrator of OFLC for prior special permission to file an LCA by mail on the Form ETA-9035.
Step 3: Case Processing and Next Steps
LCAs are reviewed by the Department within seven (7) working days for completeness and obvious errors or inaccuracies. Employers may check the status of applications they submitted to the Department and directly access their certified applications at any time by logging into the FLAG System. Employers with certified LCAs may proceed with the process of obtaining an H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 visa through USCIS and the Department of State.