USCIS Updates FAQs on Establishing The ‘Employer-Employee’ Relationship In H1B Petitions

Under the recently announced USCIS’ initiatives to promote startup enterprises and spur job creation, USCIS has clarified that entrepreneurs with an ownership stake in their own companies, including sole employees, may be able to establish the necessary employer-employee relationship to obtain an H1-B visa, if they can demonstrate that the company has the independent right to control their employment. To clarify this issue, USCIS has updated the existing FAQs on establishing the ‘employer-employee’ relationship in H-1B Petitions. A few relevant extracts from the updated USCIS Q&As are as below:

1. The memorandum provides an example of when a beneficiary, who is the sole owner of the petitioner, would not establish a valid employer-employee relationship. Are there any examples of when a beneficiary, who is the sole owner of the petitioner, may be able to establish a valid employer-employee relationship?

A. Yes. USCIS indicates that while a corporation may be a separate legal entity from its stockholders or sole owner, it may be difficult for that corporation to establish the requisite employer-employee relationship for purposes of an H-1B petition. However, if the facts show that there is a right to control by the petitioner over the employment of the beneficiary, then a valid employer-employee relationship may be established. For example, if the petitioner provides evidence that there is a separate Board of Directors which has the ability to hire, fire, pay, supervise or otherwise control the beneficiary, the petitioner may be able to establish an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary.

2. What happens if I do not submit evidence of the employer-employee relationship with my initial petition?

A. If you do not initially provide sufficient evidence of an employer-employee relationship for the duration of the requested validity period, you will be given an opportunity to correct the deficiency in response to a request for evidence (RFE). However, failure to provide this information with the initial submission will delay processing of your petition.

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