USA and the UK
What is the H-1B Visa?
The H-1B Visa, also known as H1B Visa, is a U.S. non-immigrant permit. It enables U.S. companies to recruit foreign workers in virtue for their technical or theoretical expertise.
This visa is designed exclusively for U.S. companies that operate in specialized fields such as IT, finance, engineering, and science.
Every year, the USCIS accepts a total of 85,000 H1B Visa applications. This number includes 20,000 permits for advanced degree holders, otherwise known as the master’s degree’s cap.
The USCIS uses a lottery-based system to randomly select the H1B applications to process. Subsequently, candidates are judged based on their credentials and their visa’s sponsorships.
What are the H1B Visa requirements?
The H-1B visa is targeted at workers who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and can work in specialty roles. Other H1-B Visa requirements that you must meet are:
- The job can only be performed by those who hold a higher qualification
- You must have an unrestricted license that authorizes you to practice your occupation (if applicable)
- If you hold a foreign educational qualification, it has to be the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor or higher degree.
You may still apply if you can show degree equivalence through work experience and other qualifications.
What is a “specialty occupation”?
The H1-B Visa is designed for staff in a specialty occupation. To meet the eligibility criteria and qualify as a specialty occupation, the job must comply with one of the following requirements:
- Have a minimum entry requirement of a Bachelor’s or higher degree (or its equivalent)
- Be so complex or unique that it can be performed only by individuals holding a degree
- The employer formally required a degree for the position
- The nature of the duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge associated with the attainment of a degree is required
How to apply for an H-1B Visa?
To secure an H-1B Visa, your employer must submit an I-129 Petition to the USCIS. This must also include information about the responsibilities associated with your position. Individuals cannot apply directly for an H1B Visa because they need proper sponsorship.
Once the Form I-129 is approved, you can start work immediately if you are already in the U.S.
If you are not present in the US, you must bring your I-129F at the U.S. port of entry and fill out a Form 1-94 to legally enter the country and legally live on your H1B Visa status.
How long does an H-1B Visa last?
The H1B visa is initially granted for up to 3 years although, it may then be extended to a maximum of six years.
Even though this is a non-immigrant visa, you may apply for a Green Card while in the U.S., and become a permanent resident of the United States.
However, if your visa expires before you can get your residence card, you must leave and live outside the country for at least one year. Following that year away, you will then be allowed to reapply for a new H or L visa.
What are the application fees for an H-1B Visa?
Since your employer acts as your sponsor, and he or she should pay part of the fees for your H1B petition. The cost of this visa will vary depending on the size of your business. It includes:
- The base fee to be paid for submitting the I-129 Petition ($325)
- Additional compensation of $500 as a Fraud Fee
- The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) fee. It ranges between $750 and $1500 depending on the size of your company
- A further fee of $4,000 imposed onto businesses who have more than 50 employees
- An optional $1,225 charge for the premium processing service
Can H-1B Visa holders travel with their family?
You can bring your spouse and children under the age of 21 to the U.S. under the H-4 Visa.
Under this immigration status, they will be allowed to remain in the country as long as your visa remains valid.
While on an H-4 status, your family will not be eligible to work. However, they may be able to attend school, obtain a driving license and open a bank account while in the U.S.
If you choose to adjust your status to a U.S. Green Card, you will be able to seek permanent residence for your family.
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H1B Visas are subject to a cap every financial year. Employers can apply for this permit up to six months before the actual start date of the authorized start.
There are usually 65,000 H1B visas available for professionals who hold at least a bachelor’s degree.
At the moment, the USCIS holds a lottery for all the H-1B petitions available. However, the new guidelines issued by the Trump Administration have gone into effect in 2019.
Following the new regulation, the USCIS randomly selects online applications up to the 85,000-visa cap. From that moment on, employers have 60 days to submit a full H1B visa petition for their candidates. After receiving the required number of submissions, the USCIS would process and review them until it reaches the regular visa cap of 65,000.
The remaining 20,000 claims are still allocated to applicants who hold a master’s degree or higher.
Every year, the USCIS receives a considerable number of H-1B Visas. Consequently, the cap is usually met within a few days of the deadline.
The Trump Administration is working on new legislation to address the problem. In the meantime, foreign workers can still rely on other visa categories.
Your lawyer can advise you on the best route to follow to enter the U.S. as a foreign worker. These are other visa tiers that can allow you the stay in the country for some time:
- L-1 Transfer Visa: appropriate for foreign workers who are being temporarily transferred to the U.S.;
- NAFTA TN Visa: issued to Canadian and Mexican citizens as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement;
- E-3 Specialty Occupation Visa: for Australian professionals;
- E-1 and E-2 Visas: designed for foreign Treaty traders and investors from Treaty countries.
Sometimes, the USCIS may need further evidence before approving your H1B visa application. In this case, an RFE (Request for Evidence) is issued.
Whether the missing information regards the petitioner or the beneficiary, you have 90 days to answer all inquiries. Otherwise, you may jeopardize your status and delay your H1B Visa processing time.
The most common H-1B RFE reasons refer to:
- Missing information about your employer’s Federal Tax ID Number, financial statements or wage reports;
- Inadequate evidence about your educational background;
- Further proof of the relation between your degree and the proposed position;
- Questionable or unclear relationship between you and your sponsor.
Here at IAS, our team of immigration lawyers has already helped several companies and individuals get their H-1B Visa. We can offer you a premium service, completely tailored to your needs.
You can benefit from our guidance, that includes:
- Liaising with you and your sponsor;
- Completing your I-129 Petition;
- Confirming that you have adequate competence consistent with the one requested by your role in the U.S.;
- In case you receive an H-1B RFE, we will act quickly to save your petition.
Use our online inquiry form or contact us today on +1844 290 6312. With our help, you can get your H-1B Visa without being discouraged by the competition!