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Documents Checklist for H-1B Sponsors

Did you know that early-stage startups can sponsor H-1B visas? The H-1B work visa is most commonly associated with large tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Meta. However, any U.S. company can hire talent on an H-1B visa.

How Startups Can Hire H-1B Workers

Do you have an incredible candidate you'd like to hire on an H-1B visa? There are five things you'll need to verify before getting started:

  • There is a valid job offer for the candidate: This may seem obvious, but it's essential!
  • There is an employer-employee relationship: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will want to see a qualifying employer-employee relationship between the candidate and the sponsoring company. The employer-employee relationship is evident if the candidate owns less than 50% of the company. If the candidate owns more than 50% of the company, you can show an employer-employee relationship by establishing a Board of Directors
  • The proposed position qualifies as a specialty occupation: You can only hire candidates in certain "specialty occupations" on the H-1B visa. Before you move forward with an H-1B, ensure that the position you are hiring for is an approved H-1B specialty occupation
  • The candidate meets the specialty occupation qualifications: Each specialty occupation comes with specific requirements. Often, the candidate must have a Bachelor's degree in a field related to their occupation. However, a candidate with 12+ years of experience may qualify without a degree. 
  • The proposed salary meets or exceeds the minimum prevailing wage: This is where the H-1B stops being a good fit for some early-stage startups that have limited funds. Each occupation has a prevailing wage, which the company must offer the candidate. The prevailing wage is specific to the candidate's role, experience level, and the location where they will work.

Does the H-1B sound like a good fit for your startup and the candidate you have in mind? 

No? Check out other work visas for startups.

Yes? Let's discuss the documents you'll need to file the visa application.

H-1B Documents Checklist for Startups

Labor Condition Application

Before submitting an H-1B visa petition to the U.S. government, you'll need to get an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL typically approves LCAs within seven business days. 

Immigration Forms for the H-1B Visa

The H-1B immigration forms can be confusing if you don't have a legal background. Luckily, some immigration attorneys will help you fill out your H-1B immigration forms. As you compare H-1B law firms, make sure you ask about their level of involvement in preparing the H-1B. A full-service visa package can make all the difference!

H-1B Visa Sponsoring Company Document Checklist

To demonstrate that your startup is a legitimate U.S. company with the ability to hire foreign workers, you'll need to gather company documents, including:

H-1B Visa Candidate Document Checklist

You'll also need to collect documentation from your H-1B candidate, including:

  • Scans of their current passport
  • Scans of all previous and current U.S. visa documents
  • Evidence of their education and/or experience (diplomas, transcripts, letters from previous employers, their resume, etc.)
  • If applicable, dependent documents (marriage certificates for spouses, birth certificates for children, passports, etc.)

Printing and Shipping the H-1B Petition

Each H-1B visa petition must be printed and shipped to USCIS. Finalized H-1B petitions are typically organized like this:

  1. Attorney cover letter (if applicable)
  2. Immigration forms
  3. Approved LCA
  4. Support letter
  5. Supporting documents about the sponsoring company
  6. Supporting documents about the candidate

Full-service immigration for startups

Don't want to go through the entire H-1B preparation process alone? Good news—when you work with Legalpad, our world-class immigration team handles everything. LCAs, immigration forms, document collection, preparation, and even printing and shipping to USCIS are all on us. Best of all, we love to work with startups! Get in touch with our team to learn more

About the author:

Allison Davy

Vice President Marketing, Legalpad

Allison helps startup founders from around the world navigate the complex U.S. immigration system so they can pursue their goals and purpose.