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.
- 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 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
When should I apply for H1B Visa?
How can I apply for H1B Visa from India?
What is the fee 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.
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.
Mentioned below is a breakdown of the fee that has to be paid for H1B visa:
|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
Revision to the H-1B Visa policies
A new legislation in the United States is expected to increase the minimum salaries for H-1B Visa holders. Earlier, the H-1B Visa applicants were required to earn a minimum salary of USD 60,000 to be eligible for the H-1B Visa, however, the new legislation is set to increase the minimum salaries to USD 90,000. Additionally, the applicants may require having a master’s degree in order to qualify for the H-1B Visa. Once these changes are made to existing visa policies, it can become difficult for Indian IT companies and professionals to carry out certain business-related tasks in the United States.
23rd November 2017
Green card campaign by Indian H1B visa holders
The Indian H1B visa holders have reached out to the concerned authorities to clear out the massive backlog of green card petitions. Under the temporary work permit quota, India tops the list of countries from where the most amount of applications are being received. The campaign was carried out by almost 100 H1B visa holders who are waiting for their applications to be reviewed.
26th October 2017
Indian IT corporations to benefit from new H-1B visa process
The US has restarted processing of premium H-1B employment visa in order to clear the long-pending appeals. It is beneficial for Indian IT companies that are the largest users of employment visas. IT corporations can better comprehend their project work. IT corporations make use of premium processing in order to accelerate the processing of H-IB requests remitting $1,225 along with the normal fee exceeding $4,000. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ensures the processing of these appeals in not more than 15 days.
Vikram Shroff, who is the lead for HR law at law firm Nishith Desai Associates, said the recent initiative shall bring back the H-IB visa program on track. Indian Information Companies can track applications in order to meet the desired client deliverables. Stephen Yale-Loehr, who is a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School, has said that Indian companies are happy about the new initiative.
26th October 2017
H-1B restriction concerns put to rest
A senior US official decided to subdue India's concerns on the H-1B visa programme, being assessed by the Trump administration stating that no restrictions are being implemented. In addition, he said that though the President has spoken about reviewing the programme, no restrictions are being put in place.
An executive order had been placed by Mr. Trump in April to toughen the H-1B visa programme rules and regulations to stop visa misuses.
The question of annulling the Deferred Action for Children Arrival (DACA) programme, which has affected more than 7,000 Indian-Americans, may also arise in the upcoming Indo-US bilateral dialogue on consular relations to be held on September 27 in Washington.
With India contributing to 6% of the total immigrant visa applications, it has the fifth largest body of immigrants following China, Philippines, Dominican Republic and Mexico.
20th September 2017
H1B Visa receives the highest number of Indian applicants
Despite the concerns pertaining to H1B Visa application due to stringent policies, Indians have still managed to become the top country from where the maximum application is being received. For the current US fiscal year, more than 70% of the application that the US receives for the H1B Visa program are from India. The speculations arising under Trump's administration demanding for anti-immigration policies have resulted in a reduced number of applications from China and other countries. Considering the shortage of skilled Information Technology (IT) resources in the US, the IT professionals from India seeking better career and job opportunities have contributed to the increased number of applications for the H1B Visa.
28th August 2017
H1B visa programme is good for India and US
The recent report 'The IT Boom and Other Unintended Consequences of Chasing the American Dream' provides an insight into how the H1B visa programme has been benefiting India as well as the United States of America. Though the US H1B visa policies aim at controlling immigration, the IT talent from India has been helping the US in the overall growth of the nation. While the restrictions on the H1B visa policy is forcing the IT professionals to return to India, it may also lead to adverse effect on the US economy. Considering the fact that most IT professionals from India dream of finding a job in the US IT sector for various reasons such as growth, income, etc., the new policies may direct the talent to other neighbouring nations such as Canada, Australia, etc. Experts believe that the H1B visa programme has been serving well for the nation. The programme enables a platform for both the nations to exchange talent in various IT fields. With the help of this programme, both the nations are able to fulfil their IT resource requirements. The IT professionals from India are not only growing intellectually in the US but also using those skills to help native Americans achieve their goals.
16th August 2017
H-1B Visa Relaxation for Indian Petitioners
Since Trump Administration came into force, there were speculations of changes to the visa policies to curb H-1B immigration, however, the office has announced relaxation for Indian H-1B petitioners who are from prestigious institutions such as an NGO for higher studies, research fellows and government research institutes. The individuals from this category can expect to see an immediate start of premium processing that is exempted from the cap. However, other petitions are still subject to the annual cap specified by the Trump Administration earlier.
27th July 2017
Modi-Trump to meet on June 26, discuss H1-B Visas
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump are all set to meet on June 26, in what Trump refers to as a meeting he is “eagerly looking forward to”. Amongst the issues arising regarding concerns over terrorism and trade, Modi and Trump are focussed on discussing the new H1-B rules as well. A government executive was earlier quoted as saying that their meeting would provide a new direction for a deeper bilateral engagement on issues of mutual interest and consolidation of multi-dimensional strategic partnership.
15th June 2017
Only 17% H1-B visas issued to Indian companies
IT?secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that the US government will consider that fact that Indian companies have been a value addition and many of them act as a backbone to US firms.
She said that the US government will keep this in mind before reviewing any H1-B visa regulations and added that the number of visas issued to Indians is relatively low. Sundararajan added that only 17% of the 85,000 visas are actually issued to Indian companies. She was speaking at the inauguration of the Broadband India Forum.
Sundararajan further said that the US and Indian governments are in close coordination with each other and the value proposition that we offer is very well known in these circles. She hoped for the best and said that any decision with regard to visa changes should ideally be made on these premises.
Many companies this year have made it clear that they will not be renewing any contracts. She assured that this does not necessarily mean that there are cuts in jobs. However, it may be true that some people are moving on to other sectors.
22nd May 2017
Changes in H1B visa likely to help Indian IT professionals
If we believe what experts in the US are saying, H1B visa in its current form is more likely to benefits Indian IT professionals. Earlier, when Donald Trump took over the US presidency he abolished the H1B visa citing that it requires plenty of reforms. As the new rules have been imposed, a group of experts Banyan Tree Capital Management studied how it could impact prospective and current employees in the US.
The study suggested that the new rules is likely to increase the labour costs for IT and business companies that are outsourcing services in the US. Also, the report further said that Indian It professionals are likely to get a much higher salary due to these new changes.
In the op-ed piece, it was written that the rule could increase costs by $2.6 billion per year and that new H1B visa holders will be paid a minimum of $100,000 per year, as suggested by several job postings in multiple spheres.
If and when the new visa issual starts in 2018, more and more Indian IT professionals will be benefitted because most of the IT workers in the US are Indians and that fresh applicants are likely to get better paying jobs at the outset.
8th May 2017