Many people travel to the US after receiving a job offer. These people must obtain an H-type visa before entering. This visa is a kind of temporary work permit for professionals and non-professionals and is divided into several general categories, H1B1, H1B, H1C, H2A, H2B, and H3. The H1B visa means a job opportunity for professionals who intend to work in the United States. This article will explain how to apply for this visa, as well as the fees to be paid, the documents to be submitted, and other details.
What is the H1B visa?
By this visa, companies can hire people who have a university degree for certain professions. Due to this, it is also known as a Person in Specialty Occupation Visa. Therefore, if the applicant has the following characteristics, he/she can apply for this visa:
Having an upper-level educational qualification including:
- Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- Master’s degree or Doctoral
- Taking advanced courses in fields such as fashion models
- Eligible individuals who can participate in research projects in government areas or the Department of Defense
What are the H1B visa requirements?
To receive this visa, you must first find an employer as a sponsor. If the employer cannot find an appropriate employee for the job position among American citizens, he/she can look for someone outside the United States. This job position requires a specialist who has a university degree or has taken specialized courses in a particular field. Expert people are people with special skills that not many people can do their tasks successfully. Specialists in information technology, physicians, lawyers, accountants, architects, and professors are some of the experts who are eligible to receive the H1B visa.
Therefore, the employer must first find a foreign employee who is suitable for the job position he/she wants. After that, the visa process will initiate.
A company that employs a foreign employee should have an Internal Revenue Service or IRS number.
How to apply for this visa?
H1B visa sponsors database or (sponsorship process):
First step: Labor Conditions Application
The US employer must acquire an approved Labor Conditions Application (LCA), which is issued by the US Department of Labor. This document allows the employer to hire a foreign employee. It also shows that the employer has not been able to find a qualified person for the job position among US citizens. The number of years that the employer will employ foreign employees should be clarified in the document.
Under this document, the employer undertakes:
- Prevailing wage will be paid precisely equivalent to non-foreign employees
- Proper working conditions will be provided.
- Any changes to the labor certificate will be notified to the employee.
- The workplace will be notified to the government.
- Company information and the number of employees will be provided.
- Description of job and income will be stated.
Prospective employers register the Labor Condition Application (LCA) on behalf of the foreign employee applying for a job position. The United States Department must approve the application of Labor. Therefore, the employer must obtain approved LCA before any action can be taken.
Second step: Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129
The second step is to provide an occupation offer to the foreign employee and register the Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker). This petition must be processed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. The authority to employ a foreign worker from the US government is approved using this form. Employers must request the separate I-129 forms per employee.
If two corporations hire the employee, each one must seek for a Form I-129. If the employee intends to extend the job, the employer must register a Form I-129. If the employee is changing the position, the prospective employer must file a new Form I-129 (H1B Transfer).
In addition to Form I-129, other forms must be completed and fees must be paid:
- I-129 Form filing fee: Employers can be exempted from paying this fee by filling out the Form I-912.
- Employer Funded Training Fee: $1,500 for employers with more than 25 full-time employees in the US; $750 for employers with less than 25 full-time employees in the US
- Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: $500 for each foreign worker
- Public Law 114-113 Fee: $4,000 must be paid by the employer who has more than 50 workers, and 50% of them have the H1B visa and L visa. In case of extension and modification of the USCIS petition, the employer will be exempted from paying this fee.
- Form I-907 and paying $1,225 is necessary for workers who demand Premium Processing from USCIS.
- If a lawyer represents the employer, Form G-28 must also be completed.
- Copies of the applicant’s degrees that demonstrate his or her proficiency must be provided.
- Copy of the applicant’s passport
- A copy of the contract which has been signed by the employer and the employee
- Internal Tax Return of the corporation
- A report of state salaries paid to workers
- 15 photos of the premise of the business
All forms must be signed in black ink. The petition is then sent to USCIS by the employer via one of the four locations:
- Nebraska Service Center
- Vermont Service Center
- Texas Service Center
- California Service Center
The USCIS issues a case number after receiving the request (for example, EAC-18-107-50321). This number helps the employer track the status of the application. The first three letters of this number indicate the service center (in this example, EAC is for Vermont). The following two digits indicate the year of application (18 refers to 2018). The next three-digit number indicates the day of application. This number is calculated as follows, from the first day that is opened the application period till the last day, regardless of the holidays and weekends (107 in this example). The last 5-digit number also indicates the case number (50321 in this example).
The USCIS examines the petition and considers whether the job is real or speculative and ultimately approves or rejects it. Employers and employees cannot take any action before this process is completed. If the USCIS approves the request, they will issue a new form, Form I-797. The issuance of this form indicates that the employee is allowed to start the application process.
From October 1st until September 30th, the USCIS approves about 65,000 applications annually. Of these, 6,800 applications are for H1B1 visas for Chile and Singapore citizens, and the rest is for H1B visa.
Steps to be taken by an employee:
Applicants of the visa must first complete the H1B visa application form called DS-160. After that, the applicant must schedule the interview as early as possible. If you make this appointment earlier, it will be better for you. The application fee for H visa categories is about $ 190. The cost of issuing the visa will depend on the embassy. In this case, you should seek guidance from the embassy where you are applying from.
If the company has more than 50 employees, where 50% of them have an H1B or L visas, the employee must pay an additional $ 2,250. Other documents to be submitted include:
- A valid passport
- Copies of all passport pages
- All previous passports
- Receipt of all payments
- A photo that must meet the defined standards
- The original and copy of the letter issued by the embassy for the time of the interview
- Copy of Form I-797
- Employer’s letter with job descriptions
- Employee’s qualifications
- Copy of Form I-129
If you have previously worked in the US, you must also provide the following documents:
- Tax return forms
- Information related to previous employers
- Your Curriculum Vitae or CV
- The amount of salary received during the last 12 months
If you are applying for the first time, you must provide the following documents:
- Your CV
- Information about previous and new employers, supervisors, and managers
- Contact information of both former and current colleagues
- A letter describing the duties and responsibilities you will have in the United States
- Photographs of the current and previous job locations
- Pictures of your future working building in the US (outside and inside), annual report, prospectus, and brochures
- Your bank statement
As part of the H1B visa process, you must attend an interview. During the interview, you must provide your documents and be prepared to answer a range of questions about your job. Interviewers will know whether you have all information and whether you are entering the US to become employed or to be involved in other activities. If this is the first time you are applying, your fingerprint will be taken and saved in the system.
How long does it take to evaluate the provided documents and issue the visa?
The processing time for issuing an H1B visa varies and depends on the country of the applicant. Therefore, it is reasonable that you contact the embassy where you are applying.
How long can you stay with this visa?
Initially, this visa is valid for three years. It can then be extended for another three years. So in most cases, you can use this visa to stay and work in the US for six years. This visa is a dual visa, meaning that the holder can apply to change the H1B visa status to an immigrant visa. So if you are qualified and have an appropriate job offer, you can apply for an Employment-Based Green Card.
Can your dependents come to the United States under this visa?
Most H1B visa holders want to bring their children and spouse to the US. Their Spouse and children can petition for an H4 visa. Since 2015, H4 visa holders can work under the H 4 EAD program in specific conditions. Besides, they are also permitted to enroll in studies. Children under 21 years can also go to the US through an H4 visa.
How to renew the H1B visa?
The steps for renewing this visa are the same as the initial application procedure. The same costs must be paid except for the Fraud Prevention and Protection Fee. The employer must go through the previous steps to obtain approval from the United States Department of Labor and the USCIS. The documents required to renew an H1B visa are:
- A valid passport
- Original I-94 Form
- I-797 Form
- Letter from the employer explaining your duties in detail and signed by the company agents
In cases the employer makes any changes, the H1B amendment will be required. The changes refer to anything that may affect the eligibility of the visa holder. The USCIS has not provided a list of specific changes, but examples include:
- Any changes in the structure of the company
- Promote employee status
- If the employee has to move to a new location other than the one registered at the USCIS
The amendment can be registered after the change has happened. Since there is no general instruction, the employer should contact the USCIS to ascertain if the change requires an amendment petition.
How to access healthcare under this visa?
The type of insurance that an H1B visa holder can choose depends on the length of your stay in the US. The types of insurance that the visa holder can choose are:
- Short-term insurance
- Long-term insurance
It is also recommended that people with an H4 visa purchase health insurance before entering the US because the cost of healthcare services in the US is quite high.
Let’s sum up …
In this article, we reviewed the essential aspects of a US work visa. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries. In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is a great help for applicants.