As a recent trend, those applying for an extension of their H1B visas have been asked to provide a Statement of Work or SOW as part of their application.
The SOW is a document familiar in the field of project management. It describes all the activities in the project. It includes a detailed description of the project, its deliverables and the timeline for the project.
In the context of H1B visa applications, the SOW will be a detailed description of the present and past work done by the H1B visa holder. The SOW is used for establishing the employer-employee relationship. This can prove to be tough for employees because many aspects are not under their direct control. While it may be easy for employees to get an SOW from their current employer, it may be quite a task to get one from their previous employees. This requires an investment of time and effort.
Obstacles in getting the SOW:
Getting an SOW can involve a lot of paperwork, especially from previous employers. This can disturb the ongoing work of applicants.
Individuals who have been staying in the US for a considerable amount of time, working for a single employer on an H1B visa and have applied for a Green Card, getting an SOW for extension of their H1B visa can be a challenge.
This can be time-consuming for such individuals looking to change jobs because they will have to file amendments, provide Request for Evidence (RFE) and other documents that prove the employer-employee relationship.
They may face obstacles in reaching the employers or authorities to get the documents related to long term assignments. Thye can face a further hurdle if the employer has the policy to issue only short- term contracts. In such cases, it will become difficult for the applicant to prove that the assignment is still on.
Some organizations may even deny providing such documents fearing the leak of confidential information.
SOW and employer-employee relationship:
Getting an SOW can create difficulties in establishing the employer-employee relationship. This can lead to an RFE from the USCIS. A SOW plays a crucial role in establishing the employer-employee relationship because it can prove:
- H1b employee is under the direct supervision of the employer
- The employee’s work is at a specific job site belonging to the employer
- The job duties of the H-1B employee is related to the final product of the company/ firm he is employed in
The SOW is crucial to prove the employee-employer relationship. If this cannot be proved, then the USCIS can reject the H1B visa holder’s extension applications and he may need to start all over again.