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USCIS Issues Guidance Memorandum on Establishing the "Employee-Employer Relationship" in H-1B Petitions

WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today issued updated guidance to adjudication officers clarifying the requirements to establish an employer-employee relationship to qualify for the H-1B ‘specialty occupation’ classification.  The memorandum addresses scenarios involving independent contractors, self-employed beneficiaries, and beneficiaries placed at third-party worksites.

An employer who seeks to sponsor a temporary worker in an H-1B specialty occupation is required to establish a valid employer-employee relationship.  USCIS has defined such a relationship to hinge on an employer’s right to control the means and manner in which the work is performed.   

The guidance memorandum lists a variety of factors to be considered when evaluating the petitioner’s right to control the beneficiary, including the manner and extent to which the petitioner actually supervises the beneficiary; the petitioner’s right to control the beneficiary’s daily work and work product; and the petitioner’s right to hire, pay and fire the beneficiary.  Accordingly, adjudicators must review the totality of circumstances when making a final determination of whether the employer-employee relationship exists.

The memorandum also discusses examples of evidence the petitioner may submit in order to establish that an employer-employee relationship exists and will continue to exist throughout the duration of the requested H-1B validity period.  Examples of that evidence include a complete itinerary of services or engagements, a signed employment agreement with the beneficiary, and/or relevant portions of valid contracts statements of work, work orders, or service agreements with the end-user client.

The guidance memorandum does not change any current requirements for an H-1B petition, such as the requirement that beneficiary come to the U.S. to work temporarily in a specialty occupation; that the beneficiary is qualified for that position; and that a Labor Condition Application (LCA) specific to each location where the beneficiary will be working be filed with the Department of Labor.

A detailed question and answer document on the guidance memorandum follows this Update.  For more information on the H-1B nonimmigrant program and current Form I-129 processing times, visit www.uscis.gov or call the National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283.  

Last Reviewed/Updated: 10/25/2013