On-demand Lawyers. Affordable legal help 24/7.

Strict quotas are imposed on the number of H-1B visas issued each year and competition is high. Although there is no guarantee your application will be approved, it is important to begin the H-1B visa process early.

Only 65,000 bachelor-level and 20,000 graduate-level or higher H1B work visas are issued each year. Of the 65,000 lower-level visas, 6,800 are reserved for workers from Singapore or Chile. This leaves 58,200 lower-level visas open for other applicants.

Definition of an H-1B Visa

An H-1B visa is a specialized work visa. It enables US companies to hire non-immigrant workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The applicant is only authorized to work for the company that requested the visa. The worker must be employed in a specialty occupation related to their field of expertise. Some examples of these occupations include: mathematics, IT, medicine & health, accounting, science, the arts, etc.

Benefits of an H-1B Visa

Most non-immigrant visas require beneficiaries to keep two homes: one in the US and one in a foreign country. This demonstrates that the visa holder is in the US temporarily. An H-1B visa holder allows the beneficiary to have dual intent. They may apply for permanent residence without negating their H-1B visa status. The green card application may include immediate family members.

H-1B Visa Cap

Only 65,000 bachelor-level and 20,000 graduate-level or higher H-1B work visas are issued each year. Of the 65,000 lower-level visas, 6,800 are reserved for workers from Singapore or Chile. This leaves 58,200 lower-level visas open for other applicants. In recent years, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received over 230,000 H-1B visa applications per year. The annual filing season opens on April 1 and closes when all positions have been filled. For several years, all positions have been filled within five days. USCIS uses a computerized lottery system to determine who receives a work visa.

Applying for an H-1B Visa

The first step in the application process is to find an employer willing to sponsor you. The sponsor files an H-1B petition on your behalf. USCIS also requires an employment letter from the employer detailing the foreign worker’s position and exact duties, dates of employment, and gives information about the beneficiary’s co-workers and supervisors.

Guaranteed Wages

The company must also provide a wage guarantee. According to law, the employer must pay the higher of prevailing wage or actual wage. The State Employment Security Agency determines prevailing wage based on an employer-provided list of skills, experience, and responsibilities the job requires. Actual wage is based on a comparison with other workers who have the same type of job and experience. To prove they will pay the higher wage, the company must file a Labor Certification Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL).

Preparing an H-1B Visa Application

Meanwhile, the beneficiary of the H-1B work visa must prepare certain documents as well. He or she must provide proof of their degree or its equivalent. This includes training certificates, a resume, any professional memberships, the employment agreement, proof of a degree, an education and experience evaluation, and a letter of support. Form I-129, filled out by your potential employer, must also be included, along with any relevant fees. All of this information must be included with the H-1B visa application.

The H-1B specialty workers visa is a foreign citizen visa that allows foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. and perform services in a preplanned professional job. The job must be in a ‘specialty occupation’ and must require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum for entry into the field.

It may take a few days to receive your H-1B visa stamp. Once your passport has this stamp, you can travel to the United States.

Processing and Application Fees

The employer typically pays all associated fees for filing an H-1B visa. Check with USCIS for the current fee schedule before filing. It may take several months to receive word from immigration officials. If the lottery chooses an application, the H-1B employer will receive a USCIS receipt with a nine-digit case number.

  • Filing fee: $325
  • American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act fee: based on business size (under 25 full-time employees, $750; over 25, $1,500)
  • Fraud prevention and detection: $500
  • Optional Premium Processing fee: $1,225

Finalizing Your H-1B Visa

If your H-1B visa is approved, there is still work to do, there are five steps to finalizing your visa.

  1. Digital, passport-style, color photo. It must be square, with a minimum of 600 x 600 pixels and a maximum of 1200 x 1200 pixels, with a resolution of 24 bits per pixel. The file size must be at or under 240 kilobytes, and in JPEG format.
  2. Visit the State Department website and complete Form DS 160. This is an online version of the H-1B visa application form. You will receive a confirmation number with a 10-digit barcode upon completion. Print this form out, then you will need it to set up your visa interview appointment.
  3. Pay the application fee. You may need to create a profile at the US Visa Service website first and choose the Schedule Appointment option. The payment confirmation screen will provide payment options and information. The fee covers one year from the date of payment; make your appointment within this time frame. The fee may vary by country.
  4. Schedule your biometrics and visa interview appointments. You must schedule two appointments: one at a Visa Application Center (VAC) and one at the consulate. Bring your DS 160 confirmation page and have it stamped. Biometrics information gathered at the VAC may include height, weight, fingerprints, and a photograph. Schedule your biometrics appointment at least a day or two in advance of your visa interview at the consulate.
  5. Attend your visa interview. After providing biometrics information, go to your visa interview. Make sure you have the correct date and arrive a few minutes early. You will need originals of the following documents:
    • Current and any previous passport(s)
    • Your photograph
    • The DS 160 confirmation page, stamped at the VAC
    • The receipt for your application fee
    • Your visa appointment letter
    • Any petition-related documents
    • Any documents that support your education level or other eligibility requirements for the H-1B visa

It may take a few days to receive your H-1B visa stamp. Once your passport has this stamp, you can travel to the United States.

Work Start Date

Although your approved visa gives you the legal right to enter or live in the US, it does not mean you can begin work right away. You may apply for an H-1B visa no sooner than six months before your work start date. This means that if your application is received on April 1, you cannot begin work until October 1 of that year.

Many questions arise when foreign nationals are dealing with H-1B visa issues. Consulting with an experienced U.S. immigration attorney can often protect your rights.

Source: indiawest.com/blogs/info4u/ask-a-lawyer-how-do-i-apply-for-an-h1b-visa/article_8d897c48-d31d-11eb-8635-f745390dc2e4.html