Can You File One I-129 Petition for Multiple Workers?

For some types of work visas, employers may save time and money by filing one visa petition for more than one worker. There are some downsides though.

One of the many ways that foreign nationals come to the U.S. is by finding a U.S. employer to sponsor them to work in this country. Typically, the U.S. employer begins by offering the foreign worker a temporary job offer. Later, of course, the employer may offer the worker a permanent job, which can lead to a U.S. green card. The foreign worker must obtain a temporary work visa in order to come to the U.S. and begin employment.

In order to obtain temporary work authorization for a foreign national, the U.S. employer files an I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). One of the most common temporary work visas is the H-1B. However, there are many different types of temporary work visas, and U.S. employer can use the I-129 petition to obtain several types of work visas for their foreign employees.

Often, a U.S. employer will need to obtain multiple temporary work visas for many workers. This article explains how the employer may include multiple workers on one I-129 in order to save time and costs. We explain the requirements that must be met in order to include multiple workers in one petition, and the benefits and possible disadvantages of doing so.

When Can a U.S. Employer File One Petition for Multiple Workers?

There is a basic three-step process to decide whether a U.S. employer can file one I-129 for multiple workers.

First, a U.S. employer can include multiple workers on a single I-129 petition only if all the foreign nationals are seeking the same classification. USCIS will not allow an employer to use one I-129 petition to ask, for example, that USCIS classify one foreign national as an R-1 Religious Worker and another as an H-1B Specialty Occupation worker.

Second, USCIS allows multiple workers to be listed only for the following visa statuses:

  • H-2A (Temporary or seasonal agricultural workers)
  • H-2B (Temporary or seasonal nonagricultural workers)
  • H-3 (Trainees other than medical or academic)
  • O-2 (Persons assisting O-1 nonimmigrants)
  • P-1 (Internationally recognized athletes/entertainers)
  • P-2 (Performer that is part of a reciprocal exchange program)
  • P-3 (Artists/entertainers that are culturally unique)
  • Q-1 (Persons participating in an international cultural exchange program)

If an employer wants to hire multiple workers for a visa that is not listed above -- for example, multiple H-1B visas -- the employer must file separate I-129 petitions for each worker.

Third, the employer must seek to employ all of the workers for the same period of time and the workers must perform the same services.

If the workers meet all of these requirements, then it is likely the U.S. employer can include all of the workers on one I-129 petition.

Benefits

One of the greatest benefits of filing one I-129 petition for multiple workers is that the U.S. employer has to pay the I-129 filing fee only once. Every I-129 petition must be accompanied by the filing fee, which is $460 as of 2017 (please note that filing fees are subject to change and employers should always consult the USCIS website to ensure they are including the correct fee).

If a U.S. employer wants to hire ten workers, the ability to include all the workers on a single I-129 will save the employer hundreds of dollars in filing fees. Additionally, filing a single petition may also decrease the U.S. employer’s immigration attorney’s costs, as many attorneys charge fees per petition.

Another benefit is that using only one I-129 petition may help streamline an employer’s immigration processes. Once USCIS approves the petition, it will issue an approval notice for the workers covered in the petition. All of the workers’ statuses will be valid for the same time period, so when it comes time to extend their statuses it should be easier for the U.S. employer to file a single extension petition for all workers. This efficiency decreases the probability that a U.S.employer will forget to extend one of the worker’s statuses in the midst of filing several extension petitions.

Disadvantages

A possible disadvantage of including multiple workers in one I-129 are the potential logistic difficulties of attaching all of the required documentation for each individual worker. For example, when U.S. employers file extension petitions, they are required to provide evidence that the worker has maintained lawful status. This evidence typically includes the worker’s paystubs, W-2 forms, visa, and I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. If the employer includes multiple workers in one petition, all of this documentation must be included for each worker. The greater the volume of documentation, the greater the chance that some materials may be accidentally omitted, which could delay the petition’s processing.

It is highly recommended that you consult a skilled immigration attorney in order to avoid any other potential disadvantages that may arise from filing one I-129 for multiple workers.

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