What is H1b Visa?
H1-B Visa is a nonimmigrant Visa which is designed to allow U.S. employers to employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations in the United States of America for a specified period. People from outside U.S. who are looking for employment need to have a H1-B Visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
H1B Visa Eligibility Criteria
To obtain the H1-B Visa, you must:
- Have 12 years of work experience. It can also be a mix of further education and work experience.
- Applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will determine if your employment constitutes a specialty occupation and if you are qualified to perform the services.
- Employer should file a labor condition with the Department of Labor that concerns the terms and conditions of its contract of employment with you.
- You must demonstrate that you have the ability to work in specialty occupation.
- You are willing to come to U.S. to earn and are not coming with the intention to pursue a hobby or to give free advice or any humanitarian service.
Applying for H1-B Visa
The individual is not allowed to apply for the H1-B visa, it requires sponsoring from U.S. employer. The H1-B filing period starts from 1st April and the filling period will continue till the quota is met. The H1-B sponsors and employers change every year. H1-B visas are dual intent visas as you can get permanent residency as well.
H1-B visas can be filled and approved in 15 days using the premium processing but an extra fee of $1,225 is to be paid. The H1B visa can also be transferred to the new H1-B sponsor company at any time.
Employer petitions for the H1B visa in the following ways:
- Form ETA-9035:
Labor Condition Attestation through the iCERT website. The employer assures the DOL that they will provide the employee with fair salary and equal benefits similar to that which is being provided to the U.S. citizen.
- Form I-129:
The petition for Nonimmigrant Worker is filed with H Supplement and submitted with supporting documents that include proved LCA and is to be filed with USCIS Regional Service Centre that has jurisdiction over the city of planned employment. When approved, the employer gets notice or approval Form I-797 and a copy is forwarded to the American Consulate.
Documents required while applying for H1B Visa
Documents required for h1b visa who are outside the U.S. are as follows:
- Labor Certificate Approval
- Appointment Letter offered by your employer
- Tax returns paper of the company
- Copy of the letter sent to the Department of Justice
- Copy of the letter sent to the Consular General of the Indian Consulate
- Copy of the official valuation of your degrees
- PG certificate
- Appointment and Relieving Certificates from the previous companies that you were employed at.
- Dates of prior stay in U.S. in H1-B status
- Job description and duty with the sponsoring U.S. Company to be described in short.
- Copy of current U.S. License or temporary license
- Copy of resume with supporting certificates
- Two demand drafts, $45 for processing fee and $100 for issuance fee
- 2 to 3 passport sized colored photographs
- If H-4 visa is being applied for dependent members, then you must submit copies of children’s birth certificates and copy of marriage certificate.
If you are applying for a H1-B status when you are already in the U.S., the following documents are to be submitted:
- Copy of biographic and visa pages of current passport
- Current U.S. address
- Foreign address
- Day and evening phone numbers
- E-mail address
- Form I-94 card copy
- Prior H1-B approval notices copy
- Dates of prior stay in U.S. under H1-B status
- Current resume with employment history
- Copy of university or college degree
- Copy of credentials evaluation
- Title you hold with the sponsoring U.S. Company
- Detailed description of your job and duties
- Copy of current license, if any that is required for your occupation
- Social security number
- Recent W2 copy
- Recent pay slip copy
Photo Requirements for H1B Visa
If you wish to apply for the H1B Visa then you need to provide a digital photo. Certain criteria must be met by your photographs. If you get the photo clicked at a studio, then mention that you need it for the US visas.
- Acquisition – The image file that you produce can be taken using a digital camera or by digitizing paper photo with your scanner.
- Dimensions – The pixel dimension of the image should be a square. The height and the width of the photo must be the same. The minimum dimensions must be 600 x 600 pixels for the photo to be acceptable.
- Color – The photo must be in color (sRGB) code. This is the general output for most cameras that are digital.
- Format of the file – The format of the file must be in JPEG.
- Size of the file – The size of the photo file must be 240 kb or less.
- Compression – The image might need compression for giving it the required size. The ratio of compression must not be below 2:1
- Size for printing – If the image is scanned from a paper photograph, the size of the photo must be at least 2 inches x 2 inches square.
- Resolution – The sampling frequency of the printed photos must be 300 pixels / inch.
- The image that you produce must have the full face, shoulders and neck in frontal view. The expression on your face must be non-smiling and neutral. The eyes must be opened and you must look directly at the camera.
- Head must never be tilted towards any side. It should always be at the centre of the frame.
- The background of the photo must be light in colour. There should not be any distracting shadows in the picture.
- The face should stay in focus. The photo must not be sharpened.
- The photo must not be overexposed or underexposed.
How To Book An Appointment For H1b Visa
- The visa interview is for all the people who wish to get their h1b visa to the United States of America.
- The interview of Visa can be taken by you online at the US Visa appointment system.
- If you wait till the last moment for booking an interview then you might not get the preferred time and date.
- Understand which consulate you have to apply to before you set up an appointment.
- Check out the list provided for the US Consulates present in India.
- Get an appointment on the earliest interview date.
- Check the wait period for visa at all US consulate.
Validity of H1B Visa
The H1B nonimmigrant is permitted to stay in the U.S. for a period of 3 years and the period can be extended but it cannot go beyond 6 years. The period of stay can be extended under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act. There is also a limited extension for those who have permanent residence applications pending. But, if your H1-B visa is not extended before the end of the 6th year, you are required to remain outside the country for 1 year.
Foreign nationals working in the Defense Department projects can remain in the H1- B status for 10 years.
With the H1B visa, you can bring your dependents. Your wife and unmarried children below the ages of 21 are entitled to the H4 visa and can stay as long as your H1-B visa is valid. They cannot accept employment but are allowed to attend school in the U.S. Servants are also allowed under the B1 visa.
Benefits of H1B Visa
The benefits of the H1-B Visa are as follows:
- There is no limit to the number of H1-B Visas that an individual can have in his or her lifetime.
- H1-B holders can seek Green Card or Lawful Permanent Residency for themselves and their family.
- If the employer is terminating a H1B holder before the end of the authorized employment period, the employer must pay a reasonable cost of transportation for the H1-B holder to go back to his or her home country.
- If the H1-B holder is changing jobs, he or she must reapply for a new visa. It however doesn’t mean you get another 6 years permit. But those who are converting the H4 visa to H1-B status will get 6 years permit from the date the status changed to H1B status.
H1B Visa Limitations
The limitations of the H1-B Visa are as follows:
- The duration of the stay is temporary. The H1-B holder can however seek for Lawful Permanent Residency, but if the petition is denied then the H1-B holder must go back to his or her home country at the end of the 6 year authorized employment period.
- An annual limit set to the number of H1-B Visas being issued. The H1-B cap is set at 65,000 for a fiscal year. But the quota is only for new H1-B applications and not to those seeking extension and change of employer.
How to Transfer H1b Visa to Another Employer?
You can apply for transfer of H1-B to another company. But you will need valid employment in the U.S. You must also have recent pay stubs and last 2 year’s W2 forms.
If you do not have recent pay slips, then the reason for not having the pay slips will have to be explained to USCIS. It could be due to unpaid vacation long sick leave. The approval letter for the same must be provided. If you lose the job, you lose the status of H1-B even if you have a valid H1-B Visa or a valid I-94 card.
How to Check H1B Visa Status without Receipt Number ?
You must get paid from the company from the day one of your employment in U.S. as per the law. You will not be allowed to live in the country without salary unless you have taken an unpaid leave or sick leave. Your status will remain valid and legal but you will have to find another employment at the earliest. If you are not getting a job, then it is advisable for you to leave the country.
In the event the employer is refusing to pay your salary, you can place a complaint with the nearest USCIS office or with the Department of Labor.
FAQs for H1B Visa
- When should I apply for H1B Visa?
You can apply for H1B Visa after the petition for the same has been approved by the USCIS. Generally USCIS starts accepting H1B Visa petitions for next year from the 1st of April of the current year. It means that for the year 2017, the USCIS has started accepting H1B Visa applications from April, 2016. The H1B Sponsoring Company will file the Visa petition for you.
- How can I apply for H1B Visa from India?
Your company has to file a H1B Visa petition for you with the US Department of Homeland Security. Once the petition is approved, you can apply for the required Visa at the US Consulate or Embassy located in India.
- What is the fee for H1B Visa?
Mentioned below is a breakdown of the fee that has to be paid for H1B visa:
Type Amount USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee $500 Base Filing Fee $325 ACWIA Education and Training Fee $750 (To be paid by employers who have below 25 employees.) $1500 (To be paid by employers who have more than 25 employees.) Premium Processing (It is optional) $1,225 Public Law 111-320 Fee $4,000
News About H1B Visa
Trump recommends improvement in H1B visa
In order to facilitate economic growth, president Donald Trump has urged to reform H1B visa norms. The H1B visa in the United States of America helps in pooling talent from around the globe. The H1B visa is also one of the biggest contributors in sourcing skilled graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). H1B enables professionals to receive sponsorship for their visa from their employers in the USA. There are many specialized jobs in the USA that are vacant due to unavailability of resources. By improving the H1B visa policy, Trump will make it an easier process for employers to recruit workers from overseas.
27th December 2016
Donald Trump’s Fluctuating Views on H-1B Visa
Donald Trump has recently put forward his views regarding H-1B Visa. Earlier he was completely against it and said H-1B Visa is bad for workers and should be ended. His statement was also supported by Disney workers who have claimed that many people have lost their jobs because of the H-1B visa workers. However, Trump’s opinion seemed to fluctuate when he was again asked about the H-1B visa during a CNBC debate in October. This time, he seemed to have a supporting stand for the H-1B visas and said that these visas are responsible for getting lot of talented people from out of the country. He also said that there is a need for highly skilled people in America and we need H-1B visas for that. However, according to his campaign website, he is not in favour of H-1B visas. When asked about this by a reporter, Trump replied by saying that he is changing his opinion because America needs more talented people for its betterment. He also said that he is not against H-1B visas but he is not in favour of anybody who comes to the country illegally.
18th October 2016
H-1B Visa Lottery Case To Continue After Its Dismissal Has Been Refused
After the US government’s plea to dismiss the class action lawsuits regarding the rejected H-1B petitions was denied by the Oregon federal judge, the lawsuit has been cleared to proceed. The next hearing date has been scheduled for 19th December, 2016. This lawsuit will help the employee or employer with rejected H-1B to submit their petitions again. USCIS(United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) employers and employees are basically against the process of random lottery as it randomly selects people without regard to the order of filling. As of now, USCIS provides 20,000 H-1B visas to foreign graduates and around 65,000 H-1B visas to foreign workers.
5th October 2016
Highest number of H1B Visas held by Indians
As of now, Indians hold the most number of H1B Visas issued worldwide. 70% of the H1B Visas issued all over the world is held by Indians as stated by US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Michele Bond. This also indicated Obama administration's willingness to continue with the existing policy. According to Bond, 11,000 Indian citizens residing in the United States were issued H1B visas between October 2014 to September 2015. This also indicates the increasing B to B ties between India and the US.
30th August 2016
Focus on Rise in H1-B Visa fees in the upcoming US-India SCD
On August 30, 2016 India and the United States will hold the SGD (Strategic and Commercial Dialogue), where India will raise its concerns over the increase in fees of H-1B Visa. In this meeting, India will try to get the US to sign a tantalization agreement, which will relieve the Indian IT industry from making compulsory payments for the social security of their employees in the United States. The US on the other hand will focus on the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) issue in the meeting. India is also getting ready to challenge the US on the H-1B and L-1 visa at the DSB (Dispute Settlement Body) of the WTO (World Trade Organization). Even though the US has claimed that the rise in visa fees is not specific to any country, experts have pointed out that this step has been taken to target the IT industry of India.
22nd August 2016
American Senator Seeks Investigation Of Visa Fraud
A senator in the United States has asked that an investigation be carried out into the issuance of visas under the B Visa program. He has claimed that this visa, which is a type of visitors visa only, has been misused by many companies, including an Indian company, to get their workers into the country. This practice, he said, has been working against the citizens of the country since these people are using visitors visas to get into the country and work in jobs that would ideally require an H1B or a skilled worker visa. In his letter he also expressed dismay at the lack of oversight that this program and claimed that this oversight is what is leading to the abuse. He has addressed his concerns to the Departments of State, Homeland Security and Labour and also asked them about how the B Visa program can allow someone with a visitors visa perform skilled labour if they had held an H1B visa in the past.
11th June 2016
US Officials Speak Out Against Hike In H1B Visa Fee
Vinai Thummalapally has been very vocal about his objections to hikes in the fee for H1B visas to the US. He has said that while India at the No 4 position for foreign investments in the US, the fee for visa and other rules are making it very difficult for investors to enter the US markets. The hurdles being faced are by top Indian companies like Wipro and Infosys and most of these hurdles are related to the rules around the H1B visa. He said that the current trade between the two countries stood at about $117 billion but that it had the potential to reach as much as $ 500 billion in the future should these issues be resolved. India has even registered a complaint against the US with the World Trade Organisation regarding the increased fee for the visa stating that it is in conflict with the General Agreement on Trade in Services. Even the governor of South Carolina said that it was a shame that these rules were forcing Indian students to go back to India once their courses were over.
8th June 2016
H-1B Visa Problems Traced to Indian Mega-Companies
Until the election conversation was changed last year by Donald Trump, the main immigration problem that remained unresolved were H-IBs. The middle-class had to undergo further issues as educated employees from the United States were left unemployed due to immigration programs such as L1 and H-1B. Most of the H-1B employees have experience between three and eight years, and they have plied their trade at huge IT departments for telecom operators, insurance companies as well as banks and financial institutions in the United States.
Although there are several companies owned by and connected to India at the heart of the H-1B controversy, most Americans do not even have the slightest idea as to who these companies are.
30th May 2016
Indian Companies to Shell Out $4,000 Extra on Each H-1B Visa Application in US
Amendments to regulations now required flagship Indian IT firms to shell out a minimum of an extra $4,000 on each H-1B visa application. Companies that apply for L-1 visas will be required to pay an additional cost of $4,500 in comparison what other US firms pay under the new law.
This law is expected to be followed until the 30th of September, 2025. US employers find it easier to recruit and employ overseas individuals in specialty occupations thanks to the H-1B visa, while the L-1 visa can be availed by individuals who work at international organisations that have offices in the US as well as overseas.
27th May 2016
New Delhi to discuss US visa hike at the WTO Meet
The recent hike in visa fees for the intra corporate transferees has had a significant impact on the information technology industry in India. The fees that have been hiked include the H-1B and the L-1 categories of non-immigrants, specialists and intra-corporate transferees. Both these categories are used extensively by the Indian service suppliers in the IT sector. These categories are also a part of the USA’s commitments under the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services. The country will bring up these concerns with the US administration at the 2-day WTO summit. The hope is that the US will engage with India in constructive discussions to address the concerns on the recent hikes which hampers the ability of Indian professionals as well as the US-based Indian companies to supply services in the United States.
16th May 2016