H-1B visas are highly sought after because they allow companies to hire skilled professionals who would otherwise be unavailable due to their nationality. This visa has become increasingly important over the last decade as the demand for skilled labor has grown.
However, with these visas, the application process is very time-consuming and can cost you and your employer a lot of money. When looking at this whole process, it’s imperative that it’s done correctly and promptly. For more information about these types of visas and what must be done before beginning your application, continue reading our article below.
What Is an H1B Visa?
For those unfamiliar with this type of visa, the H-1B visa is established for non-immigrants who wish to come to the United States as temporary workers. For example, if an employer offered someone outside of the U.S. a job, they could come to the country on this type of visa.
However, the employer who offered the job must also apply for the recipient’s visa. When this is done and approved, you will get a visa stamp in your passport and be able to come to the country and work for the employer. But it’s important to note that some requirements must be met before being approved for this visa.
Eligibility Requirement for H1B Visa
When it comes to requirements for this visa, there are a few. Because this is a specialty-based visa, each recipient must have a higher standard of requirements. These requirements include:
- A bachelor’s degree in the given field
- Ample qualifications and specialized knowledge for the job they have accepted
Additionally, the employer seeking the skills of a nonimmigrant must demonstrate that there are no qualified applicants within the country currently.
Who Qualifies for H-1B Visa?
These visas can be applied for by any employer seeking non-immigrant workers outside of the United States, based solely upon their abilities in a given field. Some common careers and fields that seek recipients abroad can include accounting jobs, doctoral positions, lawyers, IT specialists, or even professors for well-known universities.
Is There Any Quota for H1B Visa?
Because the H1B visa is in high demand, there are limits on how many of these visas can be given out. Generally, the cap for these types of visas are typically 65,000 per year. However, 20,000 more can be given out if the applicants can show proof of a completed master’s degree or higher education.
Additionally, there is a deadline that employers must apply before. In general, employers must apply a year before they wish to have a nonimmigrant begin employment. After the given date, no more applications for the following year will be accepted.
Due to a limited number of visas that can be accepted, the cap will usually be met within a few days of the deadline. However, if the cap isn’t met, USCIS will begin to accept more applications.
Benefits of the H1B Visa
There are various benefits that come along with obtaining a H1B visa. Some of these benefits include the option to participate in U.S. programs such as retirement or savings plans, life insurance plans, or some health insurance plans.
Additionally, when holding a H1B visa, you are eligible for cash bonuses and some stock investment options. This is a huge advantage for many who get job offers in the United States. And, apart from career benefits, there are some other added benefits that entice some even more.
When entering the U.S. under this type of visa, it is possible to bring your spouse and any children abroad with you. They will be classified as dependents under your initial H1B visa. And, your spouse and grown children can obtain employment authorization documentation and work abroad as well.
The H-1B Visa Cap
As stated in the previous sections above, there is, in fact, a cap on the number of visas that can be accepted in a given year. This cap stays at 65,000 for applicants that meet the general requirements.
However, there are another 20,000 granted for those that go above and beyond the basic requirements and possess higher collegiate-level degrees.
Who Can File For A H1B Visa?
Generally, only U.S.-based companies can apply for this type of visa on behalf of the nonimmigrant they wish to hire. This type of visa is very much aimed at employers who are looking to find skilled workers abroad. However, when it comes to the actual visa application, the potential employee will need to solely apply for this. But, the employer will be an active sponsor in the visa application.
How To Apply for the H1B Visa?
When you have been selected to further your application and apply for the H1B visa, your employer will begin your application on your behalf. There are steps that your employer will follow. We will explain these steps in the coming sections.
H1B Visa Petitioning Process for Employers
When employers petition for overseas employees, they will need to follow the steps listed below.
Labor Condition Application (LCA)
First, an LCA will need to be filled out. An LCA is a form that your employer will need to submit that acts as an agreement in wage. In general, in this form, your future employer is agreeing to the following:
- Paying you the same wage as other employees in the same field
- Providing an adequate working environment, similar to other U.S. employees
- Always be open to providing company information
- Staying in open communication with the employee if things change
This form is submitted to the department of labor and will need to be officially submitted and approved before hiring you as an employee.
File a Petition With USCIS
Next, your employer will give you an approved and legal job offer. This job offer will give the job description, wage and any other useful information about a given job. Then, the employer will need to file Form I-129.
Form I-129 is a petition for nonimmigrant workers and is the main application that must be done before you get granted this type of visa. This form must be sent into USCIS for processing and approval.
Documents To Be Submitted Along With Forms
When submitting these forms, it’s crucial to add any additional information and documentation that is required. Apart from filing Form I-129, and paying all the necessary fees involved with applying for this type of visa, there are other things that need to be submitted.
Some of these forms include:
- Copies of your nonimmigrant employees’ degree and qualifications
- A copy of their valid passport
- A copy of the contract that has been made with the nonimmigrant employee
- Internal tax returns from the hiring company
- State wage reports that were paid within the company
- Photographs from the inside of the hiring business
Where Do I Submit the Petition?
Four different USCIS offices will accept the above documents and petition for the H1B visa. These four locations are found in Nebraska, Vermont, Texas and California. It’s imperative that the application is submitted to the closest location to the hiring business.
Wait for the Review From USCIS
Once one of the above-listed USCIS offices receives the application and required forms, USCIS will either approve or reject the application. It’s necessary to wait for the final decision because if the employer or employee takes any action ahead of time, the decision will be tampered with.
If USCIS approves the petition to hire a nonimmigrant worker, they are issued a special form. This form, commonly known as Form I-797, grants approval to move forward in the H1B visa process.
Steps To Apply for an H1B Visa
If you are lucky enough to get approval from USCIS to hire a nonimmigrant worker, and have submitted the application and forms above, moving forward for an H1B visa application will be straightforward.
Below we will explain in more detail the steps that must be followed to apply for an H1B visa.
Get a Digital Photograph
Getting a digital photograph is an important step of this visa process. It’s important that when getting a physical and digital photograph, all requirements are met. There are some criteria that must be met when obtaining this type of photograph.
The criteria includes:
- No shadows
- A plain white background
- Neutral expression
- Both eyes open
- No uniforms
- No eyeglasses or other obstructions to the head unless permitted by a healthcare professional
Additionally, this photograph must be taken within the last six months.
Pay the H1B Visa Application Fee
The fee for this application is only $190 and can be made payable by bank transfer or in cash at some registered banks. The fee will also be valid for up to a year after the day the payment is made, so if you don’t end up applying for the visa after making a payment, you will have a year to do so.
Complete H1B Visa Application Form DS160
This form you will need to complete is the most important part of the visa application. It’s vital to provide all correct information and include the photograph we mentioned above. Additionally, there are various documents that you must submit in conjunction to filling out this form.
These documents are as follows:
- A currently valid passport
- Copy of all travel history in the given passport
- Visa interview appointment receipt
- A copy of Form I-797
- All qualifications you hold
- Payment receipts from the visa you are applying for
If this is your first time applying for an H1B visa, you will need to submit this additional information as well as what’s listed above.
- A resume or CV
- Names and contact details for any previous employers in your respective country
- Bank statements
- A job description for the position you are going to be taking
Take Appointment for Visa Interview
Like other visa applications, the recipient must schedule and attend a visa interview. During the interview, the officer will ask extensive questions about the place of work and the specific job you are working at.
Additionally, if this is your first H1B visa, fingerprints will also need to be taken.
US Visa Fingerprinting at Visa Application Center (VAC)
For fingerprinting, this step is also commonly known as a biometrics test. This biometrics test will get fingerprinting done for the applicant and will take another digital photograph. All this will be done at the Visa Application Center.
Go for Visa Interview at Designated US Consulate
Your interview will be scheduled as a two-part appointment, which combines a normal interview set up and the above fingerprinting. After fingerprinting is completed, you will need to do the second part of your interview.
Just like any other visa to the United States, a formal interview is required. This interview will be done at the closest consulate or embassy. You will need to bring with you the following items:
- Your passport
- The digital photograph you have gotten at your biometrics appointment
- Your initial DS-160 visa application that was formally stamped at the VAC
- Receipts of your visa payment
- Supporting documents for your visa application
- Any documents that show your sponsorship for this nonimmigrant work visa
Costs of an H1B Visa
This is a loaded question because the costs will vary slightly. Generally, the fees for this visa range anywhere from $1,700 to $8,000. The base fee for this visa application is around $460. From there, there are fees added on top of the base fee.
And, if you wish to pay the premium processing fee, this will cost an additional $1,410. In rare cases, there will be additional fees for lawyers or public law fees, which will vary based on what 50% of the company are nonimmigrants.
What Is the H1B Lottery?
The H1B lottery is put in place to thin out the application pool for this type of visa. Suppose the USCIS receives well over the allotted amount of applications. In that case, they will begin to open a selection process, which makes applicants apply for the ability to apply for this visa.
This means applicants aren’t able to go straight for this visa application, they must first apply to see if they meet the criteria to apply. Then, the H1B lottery randomly selects applications from the initial stage to move forward to the application process. From there, only those selected will be able to apply for the H1B visa.
How To Check My H1B Status Updates?
In order to check your H1B status, you can easily look on the USCIS website. When applied, a 13-digit receipt number will be given to your potential future employer and you. With this number, you are then able to look on the USCIS online portal and look for the status of your application.
Here, on this portal, you can also find the processing times for your applications.
What Kind of Health Insurance Am I Eligible For?
Those that are on an H1B visa will be able to purchase short-term medical insurance throughout their stay in the country. This plan is basic but will cover all injuries sustained at the workplace and for any illnesses diagnosed while abroad.
Health insurance is a requirement for those that are on this type of visa, so it’s imperative that this is obtained while staying in the U.S.
How Long Can I Stay in the US With an H1B Visa?
A visa of this type is valid for at least three years. Then, once this date is close to expiring, you can apply for an extension. More information about a visa extension for this visa can be found in the following section.
How To Extend the H1B Visa?
Your employer must file for an extension, which will last another three years. This can be done by filing a new Form I-129 and submitting it along with the filing fees.
This extension will take around eight months to complete; however, if your employer chooses, they can pay a premium filing fee, and have this visa approved within 15 days. This extension can be done unlimited times, as long as the recipient meets the requirements they met when their original application was filed.
It’s also important to note that when your H1B visa is in the process of being extended, you are unable to work during that time. However, you are able to remain in the country.
Don’t Wait Any Longer; Apply For an H1B Visa ASAP!
Because the H1B visas are issued to highly skilled professionals who want to work in the US, they are somewhat difficult to obtain. And with all the times you need to consider before applying, it’s recommended you start preparing for the application now if there is an interested employer.
Luckily, for help with this type of visa, ImmigrationDirect is here to help! With our innovative immigration solution software, applying for an H1B visa has never been easier. For more information about our services, or if you wish to get started on your application, contact Immigration Lawyer today to get solutions for your queries!