What is an H-1B visa?
An H-1B Visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant work permit that allows foreign workers to go to the USA and work for American employers/companies. For this visa, an employer must be willing to offer a job to the foreign worker as well as file an H-1B Visa petition with the US Immigration Department.
In order to be eligible for the H-1B Visa, you will need:
- Proof of a Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent,
- A job offer from a US-based employer for a job role that requires specialized knowledge, and,
- Your employer must be able to show that there is a lack of qualified talent to perform the offered role.
Understanding the H-1B Visa cap
Before you move to the United States under an H-1B visa and start working, you will be required to register with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and get selected to apply.
Since H-1B Visa has a lot of demand, there is a cap on the number of visas that are issued each year. Presently, the cap is at 65,000 visas, which means that 65,000 visas are issued each year each fiscal year.
People with a Master’s degree from an institution in the USA tend to already be in luck. This is because there are 20,000 extra visas available for them. Also, the visa cap does not apply in case the sponsoring employer is an institution of higher education, a non-profit organization connected with an institution of higher education, or a government research institute.
The H-1B Visa process
Once you are selected to apply for the H-1B visa, your employer may begin the process by filing a petition on your behalf.
To file a petition on your behalf, your employer will be required to submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labor (DOL) for certification. The purpose of the application (LCA) is to determine that:
- Your employer will pay you the same wage as other similar qualified workers in the area, and,
- Your working conditions will not affect other employees.
Once the LCA is certified, your employer will be required to submit a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker - Form I-129 and file both LCA & I-129 to USCIS, along with any additional documentation and fees. Other documentation may include proof of your education, professional background, relevant training certificates, etc.
When your Form I-129 is approved, you get 2 options, depending on whether you already live in the United States or not.
If you are already in the country on a different visa, you will have to wait until the status of your H-1B Visa becomes active, before you start working.
If you are outside the country, then you will have to apply for consular processing. For this, you will have to submit Form DS-160, filling which will take around 90 minutes. You will also have to pay the application fee and schedule an interview at a nearby consulate or U.S. embassy.
After arranging the interview, you will be required to bring along the following documents:
- Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended date of your entry to the United States.
- Receipts of your application fee.
- A copy of approved I-129 and I-797.
- A passport-sized photo following U.S. State Department requirements.
No, It’s not a wrap-up!
We will come up with much more about the H-1B visa in our next article.
NEXT ARTICLE: COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR H-1B VISA
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