H-1b is a visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in their specialty occupations. It is required that the applicant possess specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of work experience. A person in H-1B status must be continuously employed by an employer in order to maintain their H-1B status. If the person’s employment ends for any reason, the person will have to leave the United States, unless the person is granted a change of status or finds another employer compatible with the H-1B status.
Requirements for H-1b Visa
- A bachelor’s degree or higher (or a foreign equivalent)
- The applicant must work in a field that is related to his or her major
- The job must be one that requires a professional in a specialty occupation
- The employer must be willing to pay a minimum salary equal to the prevailing wage
There is a limited number of H-1b visas that are issued by the Government each year. A total of 85,000 H-1B visas were made available each fiscal year, 20,000 out of those are limited to employees with a master’s degree or higher which is known as the advance cap. There is a lottery being hold each year when the applicant filed surpasses the H-1b cap. The procedure is that they first held a lottery that awarded the 20,000 visas available to the master’s or higher degree holders, and those that are not selected in the first round will then join the others for the 65,000 H-1b visas. Those without a U.S. master’s degree are entered only in the second which is the regular cap lottery.
Steps to apply for H-1b Visa
Find an employer to sponsor
The first thing is to find a qualified employer that is willing to sponsor. It is pretty obvious that in order to gain a working visa, you should be employed. However, finding a company that is willing to sponsor foreign workers is often the main problem that job seekers face. Before they move on to other interview questions, most employers asked the question ” Will you now or in the future require sponsorship?”. That is where the interview ended since they do not sponsor. This is why finding an eligible employer that is willing to sponsor is usually the hardest part of getting a h1b visa.
Employer files a Labor Conditions Approval (LCA)
After the applicant found a company that is willing to sponsor, the employer will start the application process by submitting an LCA to the Department of Labor. (DOL) The Labor Conditions Approval will submit useful information to the DOL such as your pay, job duties and work location. In order to be qualified, the employer mush at lease pay a wage that is either equal or greater than the prevailing wage in that geographic area. It would be best to work with an immigration lawyer to ensure everything meets the requirements of the DOL.
Submit form I-129
Once the LCA has been approved, the company can now file the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, aka, Form I-129. The employer will submit information including the applicant’s education, work experience evaluation, training certificates, the applicant’s resume, employment agreement and the letter of support. This process usually takes up to 4 mouths but can be accelerate by a premium processing service which is available for additional fee.
After submitting all the h1b materials to the USCIS, the applicant can make sure the materials are being processed by checking on the USCIS case status here. Just simply put your receipt number in the system, and they will show the information about the case.
The H-1b RFE
After being selected for from the H-1b cap, the USCIS will still review the applicant’s documents to check whether if they want an RFE. An H1b RFE is basically the USCIS asking for additional material and evidence from the H1b applicant or petitions to determine whether or not to approve the H-1b application. To learn more about this process, please click here.
Congratulations! This will be the final step of getting a H-1b. once your H1b petition is approved, the applicant will have to get a Visa stamp to enter the United States. The applicant should apply at local US embassy in their country of residence for the visa stamping. The applicant can apply for H1b Visa stamping at embassy within 90 days before the start date on the H1b approval notice.
The H-1b Visa Fees
- Base Filing Fee: $460
- ACWIA Fee: $750 – 1,500 (depends on the employer)
- Fraud prevention and detection fee: $500
- Premium processing fee (optional) $1,410
- Immigration Attorney fee (depends on the employer) $ 2,000-3,000
- Visa Stamping fee: (depends on the country)
Duration of stay for H-1b Visa
The duration of stay for H-1b visa is usually 3 years. However, it could be extended to 6 years. The H-1b holders who want to continue to work in the United States after six years can stay by obtaining a permanent residency status (Green Card). If the applicant fails to obtain legal working status after their H-1b expired, they must remain outside of the United States for at least a year before reapplying for another H-1B visa
Dependents of H-1B Visa Holder
The dependents of an H-1b visa holder could apply for a H-4 visa. The H-4 visa holder may stay in the U.S. as long as the H-1B visa holder retains legal status. An H-4 visa holder is allowed to attend school, apply for a driver’s license, and open a bank account in the United States. Since 2015, H4 holders are also allowed to work in the United States. The H-4 holder can apply for an EAD card once H-1b spouse’s I-140 is approved.
Due to the complex nature of H-1b Visas, it would be best to consult an immigration attorney. GoH1B have developed different programs vary by occupations to accommodate our clients’ needs. With over 10 years of experience, we have successfully analyzed the H-1b RFE rate of different occupations and designed the best solutions to increase your odds.
To consult an immigration attorney please click here