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H1B Visa (Specialty Workers)

If you are a highly skilled foreign national and would like to work in the United States, then you can apply for the H1B Visa (Specialty Workers Visa).

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What is the H1B Visa?

The H1B visa, also known as a Person in a Specialty Occupation Visa, is a non-immigrant work permit for those individuals with distinguished merit and ability who have highly specialized knowledge in certain occupations to travel to the United States and perform services related to their specialized field. These occupations can include professions in I.T., finance, accounting, engineering, science, medicine, or fashion. The H1B is divided into 3 categories which are as follows:

  • H1B Specialty Occupation
  • H-1B2 Department of Defense (DOD) Researcher and Development Project Worker
  • H-1B3 Fashion Model

Every year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts a total of 85,000 H-1B 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 sponsorships.

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What are the requirements for an H1B Job Position?

Individuals who are interested in applying for an H1B position must be accepted into a job position that is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the specific duties requires the following:

  • A minimum entry requirement of bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from an accredited college or university.
  • A Master’s or Doctoral Degree
  • Advanced training or vocational skills

The H1B visa petition process is first started by the employer in the United States. The employer must have an open work position for which they can not find a nonimmigrant worker who is qualified. In addition, this position has a degree requirement (Bachelor’s degree or higher) and is particularly specialized.

After an employer finds a foreign worker who is qualified for the position, they then start the H1B visa process for intended employment.

What are the requirements for the H1B (Specialty Occupations Visa)?

In order to apply for an H1B Visa, visa applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Acceptance into a job that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge.
  • Possess a Bachelor’s or higher degree (or equivalent) in the specific speciality or have an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that allows you to fully practice the speciality occupation.
  • Have recognized work experience in their speciality through progressively responsible positions
  • Have a Certified Labor Condition Application

What are the requirements for the H-1B2 (DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker Visa)?

In order to apply for an H-1B2 (DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker Visa), visa applicants must qualify to work in research and development projects of the United States Department of Defense or other government positions. In order to prove that they qualify, they must meet the following requirements:

  • Be accepted into a job that requires a Bachelor’s or higher degree (or its equivalent foreign degree)
  • Submit a verification letter from the Department of Defense project manager for the particular project stating that the applicant will be working on a cooperative research and development project or coproduction project under a reciprocal government to government agreement
  • Submit a general description of the applicant’s duties on the particular project with a start date of employment
  • Submit a statement that lists the names of non-citizens currently employed on the U.S. project along with their start dates. Foreign workers whose employment ended in the past year on the U.S. project must also be included
    Possess a Bachelor’s or higher degree (or equivalent) in the specific specialty or have an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that allows you to fully practice the specialty occupation
  • Have recognized work experience in their specialty through progressively responsible positions

It should be noted that a Labor Condition Application (LCA) will not be needed for this category of the visa.

 

What are the requirements for the H-1B3 (Fashion Model Visa)?

In order to apply for an H-1B3 (Fashion Model Visa), applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be accepted into a position or services that require fashion models of prominence
  • Be a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability
  • Submit a Labor Condition Application
fashion model

What is the H1B Visa cap?

H1B visas are subject to a cap of 85,000 visas each fiscal year. Of this number, 65,000 visas go to regular cap applicants and the remaining 20,000 visas are set aside for those with advanced degrees (a Master’s Degree or higher).

As H1B visas are highly sought after, the USCIS uses a lottery to select randomly from the surplus of H1B visa applications. The lottery is divided into two different drawings where the first randomly pick 65,000 from the general pool and the second drawing randomly picks 20,000 from those with an advanced degree.

If picked in the lottery, 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.

It should be noted that the visa cap does not apply if the sponsoring employer is an institution of higher education, a non-profit organization connected to an institute of higher education, or a government research organization.

If the yearly cap has already been reached, you may try to seek a different employer-based immigrant visa. For example, the O1 Visa approval rate is generally higher.

How to apply for an H1B Visa?

The H1B visa application process involves many steps for both the employer and employee. The steps are as follows:

  • LCA Certification (done by employer)
  • Annual H-1B Lottery Registration (done by the employer)
  • Petition Filing (done by the employer)
  • Visa Application (done by the employee)
application

What is the Labor Condition Application (LCA)?

H1B (Speciality Occupations) visa applicants and H-1B3 (Fashion Model) visa applicants both need to submit an LCA certification. This is an important component of the H1B visa as it establishes that both the employer and employee comply with the hiring and immigration requirements for the work visa.

Employers must acquire LCA certification before they can petition for prospective employees. In order to do this, they must submit Form ETA-9035 to the Department of Labor (DOL). This application can be submitted electronically, however, the form must not be submitted more than 6 months before the start of intended employment.

One of the conditions for an LCA is that the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of other similarly employed American workers. Therefore, the foreign worker must receive the prevailing wage rate for the specialized occupation. The prevailing wage rate is defined as the average of the actual wage paid to similarly qualified workers in that particular specialized field.

The DOL normally reviews LCA applications within 7 days to make sure they are complete and accurate. After this review, employers may check the status of their applications and even access them online. If the LCA is approved and certified, they may then continue on to the next step.

Annual H1B Lottery Registration

Registering for the annual H1B lottery started in 2020. Before this lottery registration, employers filed H1B petitions for their prospective employees after receiving their certified LCA. Now, employers must submit an electronic registration in March if they would like to be entered in the annual H1B lottery which takes place in April.

To register, employers must first create an online account at the USCIS official website. They may then register one or more prospective employees (beneficiaries) by providing the following information:

  • The legal name of the petitioning organization
  • Employer Identification Number
  • Authorized signatory’s name, title, and contact details
  • Employer address
  • Prospective employee’s name, date of birth, gender, country of birth, and citizenship
  • Prospective employee’s academic qualifications

It costs $10 to register each prospective employee. Employers whose registrations are selected in the lottery will be notified via their online accounts. If selected, they can then proceed to file an H-1B Petition for their employee for that fiscal year.

H1B Visa Petition

After the Employer has received the LCA certification and has been selected in the lottery, they can then submit an H1B petition on behalf of their employee.

Employers whose employees are selected must complete their H1B petition within 90 days, starting the 1st of April of each year. To do this, they must file Form I-129 (Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker) to the USCIS along with the certified LCA and Notice of Selection from the lottery.

 

Visa Application Process

After Form I-129 is approved, employers will then receive Form I-797 (Notice of Action) from USCIS. The employer should then send a copy of this notice to the employee in order to apply for a visa.

If the employee is not in the U.S., they must then undergo consular processing at a local U.S. embassy or consulate in their country. If the application is approved, the embassy or consulate will then issue the employee with a visa to travel to the United States. When they arrive at a U.S. port of entry, the employee will then need to apply for admission through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If they pass the entry requirements, they will then be admitted to the U.S. as an H1-B visa holder.

If the employee is already in the United States, he/she will have to take the approved petition to CBP at a U.S. port of entry where they will need to fill out Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record). After this form is filled out, they will then enter the U.S. as an H1-B visa holder.

How long is the H1B visa valid?

Most H1B visas are valid for up to three years after which they can be extended after their expiration. The foreign national can stay in the United States for a maximum of six years in total however the USCIS may allow a visa holder to stay longer in some circumstances.

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.

 

engineers

What are the Application Fees for an H1B Visa?

U.S. immigration law mandates that employers must all the fees associated with filing for an H-1B petition. Employees are not responsible for these costs. Employees will only need to pay for the application fee if they undergo consular processing at a U.S. embassy in their home country. Other costs such as premium processing fees and immigration attorney fees can be paid for by either the employer or employee. The following is a list of H1B visa application fees.

Fees that are paid for by the employer:

  • Registration Fee: $10
  • Public Law 114-113 Fee: $4,000
  • Basic Filing Fee: $460
  • American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) Education and Training Fee: $750 or $1,500
  • Anti-Fraud Fee: $500

Fees that are paid for by the employee:

  • Consular Processing (Form DS-160): $190
  • Premium Processing Fee (Optional):$2,500 (Can also be paid for by the Employer).
  • Immigration Attorney Fee (Optional): Cost will vary (Can also be paid for by the Employer)

The ACWIA fee will vary depending on the number of employees employed by the employer. Employers with 1-25 full-time workers will be required to pay $750. Employers with more than 25 full time-workers will be required to pay $1,500. Some organizations do not have to pay this fee such as non-profit organizations that have affiliations to government educational institutions and research organizations.

Premium Processing Service

Premium Processing is an optional service for those who would like to expedite their H-1B petition process. In order to use this service, employers must submit Form I-907 with Form I-129. The service costs $2,500 and a decision of the petition will be granted with 15 days.

Consular Visa Application Fee

Prospective employees who are outside the U.S. and have to undergo consular processing will have to file Form DS-160 (Online Non-Immigrant Visa Application). This form costs $190 and can be paid for by either the employee or employer.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Due to the yearly limitations on the number of visas issued, the H1B visa is highly competitive. Applicants who would like to work in the United States but are not selected for an H1B visa can apply for other non-immigrant work visas such as:

  • O1 Visa (For Professionals with Extraordinary Achievement or Ability)
  • NAFTA TN Visa (For Canadian and Mexican citizens as per the North American Free Trade Agreement)
  • L1 Intracompany Transferee Visa (For foreign professionals transferred from overseas to the U.S. It is a visa classification that allows foreign organizations to transfer their staff to their U.S. branches or offices)
  • E3 Specialty Occupation (For Australian citizens)
  • E1 Visa (For foreign traders whose countries have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States)
  • E2 Visa (For foreign investors also 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 H1B RFE reasons refer to:

  • Missing information about your employer’s Federal Tax ID Number, financial statements or prevailing 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 H1B Visa. We can offer you a premium service, completely tailored to your needs.

Our services include:

  • 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 United States
  • Helping with Request for Evidence

Use our online inquiry form or contact us today at +1 844 290 6312. We are here to help!

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of an H1B visa holder can travel to the U.S. under the H4 visa category as dependents. If approved, they are allowed to remain in the United States with you as long as your visa remains valid. While in the U.S., H4 visa holders can apply for employment authorization to work, study, obtain a driver’s license, and open bank accounts.