An H-1B visa is a temporary worker visa for specialty occupations in the U.S. that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
The H-1B visa holder is allowed to work only for the sponsoring employer, and most of such employees work on a full-time basis as they can’t do any other work. All H-1B visa holders must be paid the prevailing wages in the area or higher, as specified in the LCA (Labor Condition Application) filed with and approved by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
It is possible for H-1B visa holders to work part-time. A part-time H-1B visa can either be the primary job of the holder, or it can be a concurrent job along with another full-time H-1B visa. In any case, each employer must file a separate H-1B visa petition and must meet the requirements of the H-1B regulations separately.
Number of Hours
There is no minimum number of hours required to qualify for a part-time H-1B visa. However, they must work fewer than 35 hours a week to be considered part-time.
The number of hours is not specified in the LCA, but it is specified in the H-1B visa petition filed with the USCIS. The employee must work the minimum number of weekly hours as specified in the H-1B petition, with the exception of holidays and vacation time. Part-time H-1B visa petitions cannot be based on an “as-needed” basis.
In other words, the employee must work the minimum number of hours specified in the H-1B visa petition, but no more than what is required to keep part-time status.
While it is possible for the employer to specify a range of hours, the range should be reasonable, such as 10–15 hours or 15–20 hours and so on. It can not be broad, such as 3–35 hours.
The employee must be paid on an hourly basis for each hour worked.
Alternative to Layoffs
In tough economic times, it may not be possible for employers to keep all their employees, including the ones on H-1B visas. It is possible that the employer does not have enough work for everyone, or they can’t afford to pay the same salary to all employees.
Many employers resort to reducing the employees’ salaries as an alternative to layoffs. However, that is not easy for H-1B visa holder employees, as they must be paid the minimum wage mentioned in LCA.
Therefore, as an alternative, employers can convert their full-time H-1B visa into a part-time H-1B visa. Of course, in such cases, such employees would end up working fewer hours, and it does not help the employer if they just need to get the same work done at a lower cost.
Convert from Full-Time to Part-Time
The employer would need to file an amended H-1B visa petition to convert from full-time to part-time. The employer would need to file a new I-129 and pay the fees for the same. However, they would not need to pay all other filing fees such as the fraud fee, the H-1B visa filing fee, and so on.
When the employer is filing a new H-1B visa petition for a part-time employee, they still need to pay all the H-1B visa fees, just like for full-time work. There are not too many such employers who want to spend thousands of dollars for part-time employees, unless the employee has specific skills that the employer really needs.
If the H-1B visa holder is getting a part-time H-1B visa in addition to their full-time H-1B visa, the wages are not a problem.
However, if the part-time H-1B visa would be the primary H-1B visa (or the only H-1B visa), the number of hours or the wages for a given job cannot be so low that the employee would fall under the U.S. poverty guidelines. If a part-time H-1B visa holder has proof of other income, such as the income from their spouse’s work or sufficient savings, it may still be possible to hold a part-time H-1B visa as the only H-1B visa.
H-1B Dependent Employer
Since part-time H-1B visa employees are counted differently from full-time H-1B visa employees, converting some of the full-time H-1B visa employees into part-time H-1B visa employees (or hiring a few part-time H-1B visa employees) may help some employers from being classified as H-1B dependent employers.
An employee may start working for the part-time employer as soon as the petition is received by the USCIS. It is not necessary to wait for the approval.
H-1B Visa Stamping
Even for a part-time H-1B visa, it is still possible to get the H-1B visa stamped in your passport at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Just because it is a part-time job, it should not be a concern on its own, as the LCA has been approved by the DOL and the H-1B visa petition itself is approved by the USCIS.
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