H1B Petitions for In-House Projects at Consulting Companies27 Feb 2017
Many U.S. employers that normally engage in providing tech consulting services seek to expand revenue streams by also developing their own proprietary software that can be marketed to clients. As part of the development process, these companies may seek to hire H1B workers to serve as developers, analysts, and/or engineers on these ‘in-house’ projects. While H1B petitions filed for in-house projects do not face the same hurdles seen when filing for off-site employment, these petitions do tend to present their own unique challenges.
USCIS Suspicions Regarding In-House Employment
As discussed in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Importance of End-Client Letters for H1Bs Filed with EVC Model, a large percentage of the H1B petitions filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) involve employment of tech workers in the so-called E-V-C (employer-vendor-client) model, where the H1B worker is stationed at the worksite of a client, rather than that of the actual petitioning employer. Such petitions frequently face challenges related to demonstrating a legitimate employer-employee relationship.
H1B petitions filed for in-house projects ordinarily do not raise concerns with the USCIS related to the employer-employee relationship. Nevertheless, the USCIS tends to view petitions for in-house projects filed by companies that normally engage in consulting services with a great deal of skepticism. This appears to be based on a suspicion that many of these petitions are, in fact, based on marginal projects that exist only for the purpose of hiring or retaining H1B workers who can later be assigned to client projects. This skepticism is particularly acute for petitions subject to the H1B “cap,” necessarily filed six months in advance of the start of employment.
In-House Projects Require Additional Documentation
Given the level of USCIS suspicion over H1B petitions filed by consulting firms for in-house projects, it is vital that these petitions be properly documented and presented. To ensure the best chances of an approval, the proposed in-house project must be thoroughly and comprehensively evidenced. Documentation such as project plans and market analyses can help prove the existence of the in-house project. If the project has progressed to the point where it is actually being marketed to customers, the advertising or marketing materials should also be provided with the petition. The proposed duties of the H1B employee should also be described in as much detail as possible.
Approval of In-House Petitions is Possible
If properly presented and evidenced, it is possible for consulting firms to have H1B petitions approved for legitimate in-house projects. Those seeking assistance in the filing of H1B petitions are welcome to consult with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.
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