A nonimmigrant work visa called the H-1B enables American firms to recruit foreigners with particular talents to work in the country for a certain amount of time. Typically, roles require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Occupations that qualify for the H-1B visa are typically in fields such as technology, finance, engineering, architecture, or others.
Am I eligible for an H1B visa?
You qualify for the H1B visa if you are accepted into a specific job position that has the following requirements:
- Possession of an advanced qualification such as:
- A 4 Four-year degree (or equivalent qualifications)
- A master’s or doctorate
- Advanced training or professional skills (examples include fashion models)
- Qualify to work on U.S. projects for the Department of Defense or other government employment.
Examples of job positions could be:
- IT specialists.
- Lawyers, etc.
Documents required for an H1B visa application
After paying the H1B visa fees, you need to submit the required documents for dependents as listed below:
- Your current passport.
- Copy of the current pages of your passport.
- All previous passports.
- Receipts showing that you have paid visa fees.
- A photograph that meets the requirements of digital imaging.
- Appointment letter for visa interview (original and 1 copy).
- Printed Form I-129 Receipt number, original, and 1 copy of Form I-129.
- Copy of Form I-797.
- Letter from your employer with your job description.
- Your qualifications (diplomas and certifications).
If you have already worked in the United States, you must also submit:
- Your tax return forms.
- Names and contact information of previous employers and supervisors.
Curriculum or CV.
- Pay slips for the last 12 months.
If this is your first time applying, you must submit these additional documents:
- Curriculum or Curriculum Vitae (CV).
- The names and phone numbers of your current and former managers and superiors.
- Names and contact information of two colleagues at your current and previous jobs.
- A letter outlining the responsibilities and duties of the position you will hold in the United States.
- Photographs of current and previous work locations.
- Photographs of the building where you will work in the United States (exterior and interior), annual report, prospectus, any brochures.
Steps to apply for an H1B visa:
The H1B application is filled out by the applicant. In addition to employers, employees or H1B applicants must also complete these steps:
- Fill out form DS-160. The DS-160 is the most important part of the application. You must follow all instructions and provide accurate information.
- Schedule an interview. Try to schedule the interview as early as possible. US embassies take time to process each request, so the sooner you make your appointment, the better it will be for you.
- Pay H1B visa fees. The entry fee is $205.
Submit the required documents for H1B visa.
Attend the H1B interview. During the interview, you should have your documents and be ready to answer in-depth questions about your workplace and your specific job. If this is your first time applying, your fingerprints will also be taken and saved in the American system.
Total costs of an H1b visa:
- In addition to the $205 for the H1B application at the embassy, the additional fees to be paid for the H1B visa are:
- Visa application fee. This is different for different embassies, so you should check the amount with your local US embassy
- Additional fees. For employers with more than 50 employees, of which 50% are on H1B or L visas, there is an additional fee of $2,250 that the employee/applicant must pay
What is the H1B Lottery?
The lottery is the process by which USCIS selects which applicants will receive an H1B visa. The selection is completely random.
Your employer has two weeks in March to file an H1B petition with USCIS. (The 2021 H1B lottery opened on March 9 and lasted until March 25). After the petition was submitted, USCIS used a random computerized selection technique to choose 85,000 applicants at random.
The United States issues 65,000 regular H1B visas and 20,000 H1B visas for applicants who have a master’s degree or higher.
If you are selected, USCIS will notify your employer by the end of March. Then, starting April 1, you can make an interview appointment with the US embassy/consulate in your country and get the visa stamped in your passport.
How to see my H1B status updates?
When your employer submits your H1B visa application, you will receive a 13-digit receipt number that you can use to verify your H1B status on the USCIS website. The receipt number begins with “EAC, WAC, LIN, SRC, NBC, MSC or IOE” and is followed by 10 numbers. Your status may indicate one of the following:
- Submitted: Your employer has submitted the petition and is eligible to be selected.
- Selected: You have been selected and can petition for the H1B cap.
- Not Selected: You have not been selected and cannot petition for the H1B cap.
- Denied: Your employer filed more than one petition on your behalf, and therefore the entire petition was denied.
- Invalid Payment – Your employer filed a petition, but the payment somehow failed or failed.
What type of health insurance am I entitled to?
The type of H1B health insurance you are entitled to depends on how long you will be in the United States. As an H1b visa holder, you can have:
- Short-term insurance
- Long-term (household) insurance.
To learn more about health insurance options for H1B visa holders, visit the article.
How long will the processing take?
H1B visa processing time depends on country to country. US embassies in different countries/cities have different processing times, so it’s best to contact them for any details.
How long am I permitted to remain in the US on an H1B visa?
The H1B visa is initially valid for 3 years but can be extended for another 3 years. In total, a person can stay and work in the United States for up to 6 years. However, this does not mean that the person has to return to their home country. The H1B visa is well-known because it has a dual-intent.
Dual intent visas allow holders to request a change of status on an immigrant visa. Therefore, if you are eligible and have a valid job offer after 6 years, you can apply for an employment-based green card.
How to extend H1B visa?
The processes for H1B extensions are the same as those for original applications. Except for the cost for fraud protection and prevention, you will be required to pay the same fees. Your employer will also need to follow the same procedures to obtain certification from the DOL and an approved petition from USCIS. Additionally, you will submit these documents:
- Your passport.
- Original Form I-94 (which you will receive when your visa is approved).
- Valid Form I-797.
- Letter from your employer detailing your job and signed by company representatives.
The H1B Amendment requires U.S. employers to file an amended petition if the employee experiences material changes. Substantial changes include anything that impacts an employee’s eligibility for an H1B visa. USCIS does not provide a list of what qualifies as such a change, but examples include:
Change in corporate structure.
Promotion to a different employee department.
If the employee is required to travel to a location other than the location registered with USCIS.
The amendment can be filed after the amendment has occurred. There is no universal guideline on the H1B amendment, so employers will need to contact USCIS to determine whether the amendment qualifies and requires an amended petition.
Can I bring my spouse with me?
Many people with H1B visas choose to travel with their partners and kids. Spouses are eligible to accompany H1B visa holders if they obtain H4 visa. As of 2015, H-4 visa holders may qualify to work under the H4 EAD program under certain conditions. Furthermore also those who have the H-4 visa can enroll in studies.
Others eligible to accompany an H1B visa holder are children under the age of 21, on an H-4 visa.
The dependent spouse is advised to obtain a health insurance policy before traveling to the United States due to the enormous costs of health care in the United States.
What is H1B Visa Stamp?
In case you are granted an H1B visa, you must go ahead and apply for H1B visa stamping. This is a process in itself and you should check the article on H1B visa stamping for more details.