USCIS Clarifies H-1B ‘Employer-Employee’ Relationship for Company Owners

In response to stakeholder feedback, USCIS has updated existing FAQs to clarify that an H-1B beneficiary who is the sole owner of the petitioning company may establish a valid employer-employee relationship for the purposes of qualifying for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa – which is used by U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as science, engineering, and computer programming.

This is a very important policy modification which is in direct contrast to the Neufeld memo, which stated that company owners cannot also qualify for H-1B status.

We encourage readers to click the link above to access the USCIS FAQs on this subject.

In pertinent part:

Q: 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. In footnotes 9 and 10 of the memorandum, 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.

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