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If you’re looking to work in the US, or have been offered a job by an American company recently, the H-1B visa is what you need. Every year, US companies hire foreign employers for positions that need special knowledge or skills, which they can’t fill with any American. For that, foreigners need an H1B visa.
Obtaining a visa can be a complicated and stressful experience. However, don’t worry because we will provide everything you need to know about the H-1B visa in this article.
The H1B visa is a visa for temporary specialty workers. It’s issued so that employers that need foreign talents for specialty occupations obtain the skills they need. The visa is valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed for 3 more years. This means you can stay for a maximum length of 6 years.
To obtain an H1B visa, an employer must first offer you a job in the US. Next, the employer must apply for your visa with the Immigration Department. If the application is approved, you get a work permit that allows you to get a visa stamp so you can work for the employer.
The requirements for an H-1B visa are:
● Must be qualified and eligible for the visa
● Your employer must have a Labor Condition Application (LCA) approval issued by the US Department of Labor.
● Your employer’s petition for the H-1B visa must be approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
● You must apply for the visa and get the visa stamp at US consulates in your home country.
● After your visa is approved, you have to go to the US to work with the employer.
The visa is for “specialty occupations”, meaning the position you’re offered must require an equivalent of 4 years of bachelor’s degree. Therefore, your employer must prove in the petition that your job qualifies for the H-1B regulations. You may need to prove one of the following requirements:
● An equivalent of a baccalaureate or higher degree
● The position, the employer, and the industry normally require the degree
● The degree requirement for the position is common in similar positions among the industry
● The job entails responsibilities that require specialized knowledge that would require a baccalaureate or higher degree
Not only that, but you also need to show the relationship between your degree and the occupation. You might have to submit some of these proofs:
● An explanation, preferably written by experts, of the relationship between your degree and your position, such as how the skills you have are needed for the specific responsibilities of the position
● Sources showing the degrees that are typically required for the position
● Evidence that similar companies in the same industry also need similar degree and skills for similar positions
It’s recommended to provide as many and detailed explanation and documentation as possible. That way, there will be a higher likelihood that your petition will be approved more quickly. It also lowers the chance of getting a Request for Evidence (RFE).
In applying for H-1B visas, the fees except for the visa fees are borne by your employer. However, if you upgrade your application to premium processing, you might have to bear the cost yourself. Always double-check with your employer.
To apply for a H1B visa, you must prepare the following mandatory documents:
● Valid original passport. You are recommended to have passport valid for at least six months beyond your interview date.
● All old passports held
● One photograph as per specification.
● US Visa Application Form DS-160 confirmation page stamped at the Visa Application Center (VAC)
● US Visa Application Fee payment receipt.
● Visa Interview appointment letter.
● Original Notice of Action-I-797.
● Blanket L1 applicants must carry the original I-129 and a copy of the Notice of Action I-797.
Depending on each specific case of applicants, some additional documents must be submitted if necessary.
The process of H1B visa application is quite complicated. However, we will provide you the main steps of this process so that you can image how it work.
When you find a job in US, make sure that the employers are willing to sponsor you.
Once a US company has hired you, the employer will begin the application process by submitting an LCA to the Department of Labor(DOL) electronically using the iCERT Portal System. LCA stands for Labor Conditions Approval and tells the DOL the various factors of your job such as pay, location, and working conditions
To complete this step, the employer must include the fees, education and experience evaluation and documents, training certificates, any professional membership documents, the applicant’s resume, employment agreement, and letter of support.
The last step is for the applicant to process their visa at their home country’s US embassy office or consulate. Read more H1B visa Interview Questions
The fee for H1B visa is quite expensive, however, this fee is paid by the employer who sponsors the applicant.
Typical H1B processing fees include:
● $300 Base Filing Fee
● $750 ACWIA fee (for employers with 1-25 full-time employees)
● $1,500 ACWIA fee (for employers with 26+ full-time employees)
● $500 Fraud prevention and detection fee
● $1,225 optional premium processing fee
For H-1B regular applications, the processing time is between 3 months to 1 year. If you apply through H-1B premium processing, you can get it approved within 1 to 15 days of filing the proposal. The possibility of approval is the same for both applications. However, take note that for premium processing you might have to bear the fees, which is $1410.
If you get an RFE, the USCIS takes an average time of 90 days to review it.
You can track your visa approval online. The USCIS updates approval data daily. Read more about H1B extension.
The yearly quota is usually 65,000 per year. The first 20,000 visas for people who have a Master’s degree or higher are not counted in the limit.
Each year there are also 6,800 visas reserved for Chilean and Singaporean citizens. This number is deducted from the total quota (65,000 plus 20,000).
Due to the limits, visas are granted based on a lottery system.
Because of the limit, you can only apply 6 months before you start employment. For the fiscal year starting October 1st, you can start applying on April 1st the previous year. For instance, you can apply from April 1st, 2020 for a position in the US that starts on October 1st, 2021.
Your employer is legally required to pay for the expenses for an H-1B visa petition.
We hope it can clear up your confusion regarding the H-1B visa.