H1B Visa

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

H1B_Visa
US H1B 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:

  • Passport
  • 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.

Requirements:

  • 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.

Scanning Requirements:

  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.
  2. Resolution – The sampling frequency of the printed photos must be 300 pixels / inch.

Composition Requirements:

  • 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 center of the frame.
  • The background of the photo must be light in color. 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

  1. When should I apply for H1B Visa?

  2. 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.

  3. How can I apply for H1B Visa from India?

  4. 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.

  5. What is the fee for H1B Visa?

  6. 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

*Disclaimer

News About H1B Visa

  • H1B Visa Holders’ Spouses Sue the United States Government; H1B Visa Premium Processing Starts

    H1B visa holders’ spouses have sued the United States Government due to undue and unlawful delays in providing them with an extension on their H-4 visas. 

    The lawsuit claims that the USCIS has intentionally delayed the entire process, putting thousands of highly skilled women temporarily out of work. This, in turn, has taken a toll on their financial and emotional wellbeing. 

    This comes after the Trump administration issued a notice to stop the H4 programme, thereby not allowing the spouses of H1B visa holders to take up jobs in the United States. 

    On the other hand, the USCIS said that they will begin premium processing for H1B visa applications. This processing, they say, will be undertaken in two phases. 

    The second phase of processing of H1B visa applications began on June 10. 

    17 June 2019

  • Data released by USCIS shows REFs increased by 60 per cent regarding H-1B visa applications

    Citing data released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a media report has claimed that scrutiny for H-1B visa applications have increased by 60 per cent. The report states that USCIS has issued requests for evidence (REFs) to 60 per cent of all completed H-1B cases in the quarter ending December 2018. The number holds significance as in the previous fiscal that ended on 30 September 2018 the percentage of those receiving REFs was 38 per cent while in fiscal 2017 the percentage was just 21. In the report, the media agency has claimed that during the first quarter of fiscal 2019 as many as 60, 000-odd REFs have been sent.  

    It needs to be mentioned here that the issuance of REF implies that the immigration department wants additional evidence before it takes a final decision on granting a visa to the applicant. In case, the evidence does not satisfy the authorities, the application is rejected.  

    Due to increased scrutiny by USCIS authorities, IT consulting companies are seeing an increased denial rate for initial H-1B applications. As per the media report, denial rate for Capgemini was 80 per cent while for Cognizant it was 61 per cent. As for IT companies that are headquartered in India, the denial rate ranges between 20 to 40 per cent. 

    1 March 2019

  • Trump administration planning to cut the cost of filing for a visa

    The efforts of the Trump administration to restrict H-1B work visas has taken a rare turn. This is because they are planning to cut the cost of filing for a visa and making it easier for a firm to file for a visa using an electronic registration system.  

    Shanon Stevenson, an immigration attorney at Fisher Phillips has stated that the new registration system which will begin in the 2021 fiscal year would enable an employer to register a visa candidate in a visa lottery without submitting a completed visa package. She added that the new process was going to save employers time and money because they are going to have to submit an H-1B petition for someone who isn’t selected in the lottery. 

    It needs to be mentioned here that the electronic registration system is not the only change with regard to the H-1B work visa. The administration is also reordering the visa lottery system to favour people who have earned a U.S master’s or higher degree, a change that will take effect for this year’s H-1B work visa lottery. The development has not gone down well among the industry groups. They argue that a person having an advanced degree does not make him or her a better job candidate. They add that the development was also against an earlier Trump executive order which states that H-1B visas are only awarded to the most-skilled or highest paid petition beneficiaries.

    6 February 2019

  • New H-1B, H-4 Visa Proposals, Public to be Consulted

    Since nearly three-quarters of H-1B Visa holders in USA are Indians, any changes to the visa will have a huge impact on India. H-4 Visa holders, namely spouses and young children of H-1B Visa holders will also be affected. Changes to the visa rules will be significant because 93% of the H-4 Visa holders with work permits are from India. This translates to more than one lakh people being affected if the H-4 visa is revoked or denied in the future. There is also talk of limiting the H-1B Visa to only highly skilled persons. Therefore, in order to minimise the issues that will come with the proposed changes, the American Government has informed people that the public will be consulted before the changes are confirmed.

    19 November 2018

  • H-1B visa used most by consulting and auditing companies in the last 5 years

    Consulting and auditing companies have taken the major share of H-1B visa in the last 5 years as per a report. Out of all these firms, Ernst and Young filed the most applications with the number being 151,164. Next in the list were Deloitte and Cognizant with 69,869 and 47,732 respectively. In the fiscal year of 2017, Deloitte and Cognizant were at the top of the list in terms of applying for H-1B visa but with the pressure from the American government to hire the workers locally, the number of H-1B visas issued every year are now being restricted.

    But the decrease in the number of H-1B applications being issued does not mean that the request for H-1B visas from companies has reduced. The number of applications received by the US department of Immigration was recorded at 626,907 which is an increase of 5.4% from the previous year. This is because in many states in the US, the demand for skilled IT workers has only increased in the past few years. Another rule applied by the US government is making the process of renewal of H-1B visa harder than it was earlier which has also increased the headache of these firms.

    13 November 2018

  • New deportation rule in the US could be a potential threat to Indian H-1B Visa holders

    The US is all set to implement a new rule to initiate the deportation process of people whose legal status to live in the country has expired. Although starting from 1st October, at present, the policy will not be applicable to petitions related to employment and humanitarian grounds. That, in a way, is a breather for people holding H-1B visas.

    Notices to appear (NTA) before an immigration judge will be issued to the people whose visa extension or changes request have been denied. If the cases regarding the denial of extension requests of H-1B visas are included, it would be a major cause for concern to a large number of people, most of whom are Indian nationals.

    However, the concerned agency has assured that benefit seekers would be allowed adequate notice if their application is denied. Information on the period of further stay in the country and other related queries will be furnished by the agency.

    4 October 2018

  • Bill introduced in House of Representatives which provide flexibility to H-1B holders to switch jobs

    An Indian-American Congressman named Raja Krishnamoorthi has introduced a bill which gives flexibility to H-1B workers to switch jobs. The legislation which has been introduced in the House of Representatives also reduces the Green card backlog by expanding education-based exemptions from per-country caps for the holders of H-1B visas. Krishnamoorthi joined Mike Coffman, the original sponsor of the bill in introducing ‘H R 6794’ the Immigration Innovation Act of 2018.

    Both the representatives felt that if the bill was passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President it would help in reforming and streamlining the H-1B high-skilled worker visa programme. They believed that it will also be beneficial in increasing investment in American Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education for students.

    Coffman stated that the immigration policies of the country must fit with the economic needs of our country. He added that one critical part of Congress' job was to ensure that the immigration laws match the country's high-tech workforce requirements along with the needs of H1-B visa applicants and their families.

    It needs to be mentioned that the proposed bill also suggests banning employers from hiring H-1B holders to replace American workers. Apart from that, the fees collected for H-1B visas and conditional Green Cards will go to state-administered funds in a bid to promote domestic STEM education and worker training. The lawmakers believe that advanced training for domestic workforce would ultimately result in reduced demand for foreign workers while helping the economy to grow.

    The proposed bill among other things removes the existing annual exemption cap on H-1B visas for holders of US master's degrees or higher and narrows down the education-based cap exemption for those having US PhDs. The bill also subjects employers who have more than five H-1B employees to a penalty for each employee who worked less than 25% of the first work-authorisation year, prohibits employers from hiring an H-1B visa worker to replace a US worker, and enables work authorisation for the spouses and dependent children of H-1B visa workers under the prevailing wage. The bill also allows the creation of a new conditional Green Card category to allow US employers to sponsor university-educated foreign professionals through a separate path from H-1B, undertake recruitment efforts to fill open positions and offer wage, not under 1,00,000 per year as well as attest that no US worker has been displaced for the Green Card holder.

    1 October 2018

  • India urges United States to take a non-discriminatory and predictable approach to the H-1B visa regime

    Given the changes made in the H-1B visa policy by the Trump administration, many people including Indians who reside in the US has faced problems. Fearing that the changes could affect the people-to-people links, Indian officials has asked the US officials to take a non-discriminatory approach to the H-1B visa regime. The request was made by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during the first 2+2 India-US Ministerial Dialogue held last week.

    The minister while addressing the media after the dialogue stated that she had sought the support of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to nurture people-to-people links and maintain the trust of Indians. The 2+2 India-US Ministerial Dialogue was also attended by Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

    It needs to be mentioned here that H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that is used by US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations which require technical expertise. The Trump administration has brought about a number of changes in the visa policy claiming that some IT companies were misusing the policy to hire foreign workers at the cost of American workers.

    14 September 2018

  • Outsourcing firm files lawsuit against USCIS for denying renewal of an H-1B visa to an Indian-American man

    A Maryland-based staffing and outsourcing company known as Stellar IT Solutions has filed a lawsuit against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The lawsuit has been filed citing that the agency had no basis to deny renewal of an H-1B visa to an Indian American man. It needs to be mentioned that the man who has been denied renewal has been working through the company for the past seven years. The USCIS had not responded to the suit filed against it by the company till September 3, which was the press time.

    As per the complaint, Kartik Krishnamurthy who works as a software engineer had applied for a renewal of his H-1B visa in August 2017. However, the USCIS responded to his application after four months with a ‘Request for Evidence’ (RFE). The agency which had initially given Krishnamurthy until April 17 to respond however denied Krishnamurthy’s application on March 20, a month before the deadline expired. Stellar IT Solutions which also does business as Stellar Software Networks responded to the RFE on April 17 following which USCIS reopened the case only to deny Krishnamurthy’s application. The company has gone ahead and alleged USCIS’s denial of the H-1B visa to Krishnamurthy as ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ The lawsuit seeks a court order overturning the visa denial.

    11 September 2018

  • New rules in US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy may result in H-1B holders being deported

    As per the new US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy, H-1B visa holders could face deportation on the conditions that the application for extension or change of status is rejected or the tenure of stay granted by the government expires. The Trump administration has announced that the policy memorandum empowers USCIS to issue a ‘Notice to Appear’(NTA) order to a person whose visa petition for transfer or extension has been denied. Apart from that, the person would be required to stay in the country for some months without a job until the court hearing is completed. The new policy will see the rules of deportation widen which was till now was only restricted to only criminal cases.

    14 July 2018

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