The H1B Visa Process

H1B Visa Process

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Each year, American companies look to fill certain job positions that require specialized skills, knowledge, or educational background. However, they’re not always able to find US Citizens to fill these positions. Therefore, these companies will look for foreign workers who do meet qualifications for the job.  An H1B Visa allows foreign workers to work and reside in the US temporarily.

What is the H1B Visa?

The H1B visa is a temporary visa that authorizes a foreigner to work for an American company. Under most circumstances, this individual has already been hired by the company for a job that requires special skills and knowledge for which there is no qualified American citizen.

The Department of Defense, the fashion industry, and research and development organizations usually have H1B visa holders working for them. An H1B visa requires the employer’s sponsorship who usually covers the visa fee and the cost of the employee’s relocation. The employer would also be responsible for submitting all required documentation.

The H1B Visa Application Proces

Obtaining an H1B Visa Sponsor

If you’re looking to come to the U.S. through an H1B visa, then you must already be employed by a company who is willing to sponsor your application process. Even if the company has already hired you,  you should confirm that they’re willing to do this for you. Most employers are familiar with the H1B process and will ask if you need sponsorship. However, if the management has not mentioned it, be sure to ask about it.

Submission of Labor Conditions Approval (LCA)

During the H1B process, your employer will be submitting an LCA to the Department of Labor. The LCA details information about your job including location, salary, and working conditions.

Submission of Form I-129

Once an LCA gets approved, the employer files a non-immigrant petition form, known as Form I-129.  For this part, the employer submits the education and experience assessment and presents the fees, certificates, resume, letter of support, and employment agreement.

This petition can last up to three or four months before getting processed, except in cases of premium processing, which requires additional fees.

Apply at a US Embassy

The employer must notify the applicant when the petition has been approved. Once informed, the applicant can book an appointment at the US embassy in his/her home country. This usually takes about two or three days, but may still vary by country.

For Visa Holders

A few things you should know as an H1B visa holder:

  • The validity of an H1B visa is usually 3 years but can be extended to as much as 6 years or 10 years in some instances.
  • Quitting your job or getting dismissed means that within the next 60 days, you must get a new employer and refill your paperwork, apply for a status change, or get deported.
  • The H1B visa allows your family members to join you in traveling to the US.
  • As an H1B visa holder, after exceeding your stay limit, you can choose to process your application for a green card.

H1B Visa Requirements

You must meet the requirements below before you can be granted an H1B visa:

  • The applicant must have obtained a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree.
  • The applicant’s documents must prove that he or she is qualified for the position that the employer wants.
  • The job must be one that requires a professional in a specialized field.
  • The applicant must have sufficient knowledge in the field of the prospective job.
  • The applicant’s employer must prove that there is no qualified US citizen for the job offer.

* Nonetheless, the requirements described above can be waived for applicants with a minimum of 12 years of specialized experience.

H1B Visa Fees

Applying for an H1-B Visa can be expensive. However, the fees are a non-issue for many applicants since their employers usually cover the cost.

The cost to process an H1B visa

  • $300 for a base filing fee
  • $500 for fraud prevention and detection fee
  • $750 for ACWIA fee (for employers that have 1 to 25 full-time employees)
  • $1,500 for ACWIA fee (for employers that have more than 25 full-time employees)
  • $1,225 for premium processing fee (optional)

It is crucial to know that the premium processing fee is optional and not the responsibility of the employer. However, if you choose to pay for it, your employer must certify that your choice to pay for the fee is not beneficial to him/her.

Contact an Immigration Attorney who Can Help with your H1B Visa Process

There are many steps and conditions for applying for an H1B visa. If you or a family member is looking to come to the US under this type of visa, it’s important to make sure that your documentation is valid and that you meet all the conditions for entering the country legally. Otherwise, you run the risk of compromising your legal status to live and work in the US. Getting the help of an experienced immigration attorney who understands the process is your safest bet.

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