USA and the UK
Who is the H-1B visa for?
The H-1B visa, also referred to as the H1B visa, is one of the most popular US-based work visas available. It is aimed at those overseas workers who have skills in a number of key fields. Holders of the H1B visa are able to work in occupations within a range of sectors such as IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science and medicine.
However, the H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa and therefore only allows temporary status in the US. In most cases, the visa will be valid for three years but it can be extended by the Citizenship and Immigration services but overall there is a six-year limit for visa applicants.
What is the H1B cap?
US Immigration Services also put an annual cap on the H-1B visa. The total number of applications allowed each year is 85,000. However, at least 20,000 of these must be reserved for applicants who have an advanced degree – this is referred to as the Master’s Degree cap.
There are some exemptions to the H1B visa cap but even if granted, the H1B application will still be approved in the same time frame as those aimed for under the cap.
Exemptions to the H1B visa cap may only apply to the following:
- higher education institutions
- non-profit organisations that are linked with a higher education institution
- non-profit research organisations
- government organisations
The strong demand for the nonimmigrant status visa means it can be difficult to be given the visa requested and this does have an impact on the overall processing time for applications.
In addition, it is possible for H1B visa holders to become eligible for a green card that would allow them permanent resident status in the United States.
Processing times for H1B visa
As the H1B process can be more complicated that other visas it does have a lengthy processing time and it can be hard to give an accurate timescale for how long you may have to wait to hear from the Citizenship and Immigration services.
The time taken will vary from country to country as the local US embassy will be responsible for the initial processing. If you are unclear about how long it make take you can contact your nearest US Embassy for more advice on current processing times.
As a rough guide, the average H1B application can take between three to 12 months from the initial filing of the application. However, there is the option to upgrade this time if you are willing to pay extra costs.
You can help ensure that your application is not delayed unnecessarily by submitting all the correct documentation in advice and responding quickly if Immigration Services get in touch requesting more information about your submitted form.
You may also want to get the advice of an professional immigration attorney to ensure you are applying in the most suitable way.
Premium processing fee option for H1B applications
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.
How much does a H1B cost?
All fees associated with the filing of a H-1B petition must be paid by the employer and not the employee. The only charge that employers will need to pay is the cost of the application fee if they opt for consular processing at their local US embassy. There are additional optional fees such as premium processing and any immigration attorney advice – which can be paid for by either the employer or employee.
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.
How long is a H1B visa valid?
As long as your employment in the US is still ongoing and meets the requirements, then you are allowed to remain in the country for up to three years initially. You can then apply for an extension to stay for a further three years – meaning six years in total.
If you wish to extend your H1B visa then you will need to consider this up to six months before your current visa expires and request that your employer petitions for an extension.
To extend your H1B status you application must include the following:
- valid passport with original H1B visa
- the original approved I-797
- an I-94 Arrival/Departure form showing a departure date that has not yet been reached
- the employee’s CV
- evidence of employment such as payslips or a letter from the employer
- evidence of the employee’s degree qualification
- references from previous employers
Due to the time it takes to process H1B extensions you should consider making the request as soon as you are able to as current processing times are around four months.
Last modified on June 17th, 2023 at 8:05 am
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Yes, you must have a firm job offer from a US-based employer before starting the process of apply for a H1B visa. Your employer will need to act as the petitioner for your application and will be required to fill in a number of forms as well as pay certain fees.
In some cases, the US immigration services may need additional information to proceed with your H1B visa application and may issue a RFE (Request for Information).
You have 90 days to response to this and provide any information they have requested. It is important to deal with the RFE promptly otherwise you could face delays to your application or possible rejection.
It is possible to bring some dependents to the US if you have a valid H1B visa. You will need to apply for a H4 visa for your spouse or unmarried children under the 21 and they will only be able to live in the US for the time your H1B is valid.
Yes, it is possible to travel and re-enter the US of a H1B visa. However, you should ensure you always have your supporting documents so that you can proof your immigration status when arriving and leaving the country.
The H1B is a dual-intent visa so it is possible to be eligible for a green card – but only after the visa has been held for the maximum period of six years.
Most qualifying H1B visa holders will apply for a green card via employment routes in a number of categories including EB1, EB2, EB3.
The process of being granted a H1B visa can be lengthy and is very competitive due to the annual cap on numbers.
However, there may be an alternative visa route that could help provide a route to living and working in the US. These include the L1 Intercompany Transferee visa, E1, E2 and E3 work visas.
You should seek advice on which route is the most appropriate for your circumstances.
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!