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Step by Step Guide to H-1B Visa to USA

H1B Visa Application Process

Posted on Jan 11th, 2022 by Priyanka Jadhav, Last updated Jan 27th, 2022, Leave a Comment

Introduction

The significance of the H-1B visa system in the U.S. is difficult to understand. It is the United States’ largest work visa program and it also is an important channel for high-skilled immigration to source out employment in the country. It has benefitted many fields – the tech industry, healthcare, science, finance, etc. In this article, we discuss in-depth the definition, requirements, fees, application process, and much more related to H-1B visa. 

What is an H-1B Visa?

In order to work in the United States, a foreign national must get an H1B visa authorized by the US government. In order to temporarily enter the United States and work in specialized occupations, foreign citizens must obtain an H-1B visa, a non-immigrant visa. Only a certain amount of H1-B visas may be granted each year, so candidates must enter their names in a lottery to be considered. Employing foreign nationals with theoretical or technical knowledge in a specialist occupation is permitted under the H-1B visa. The information in this article about the H1B visa requirements should assist you in determining whether or not you are eligible for one.

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What are the Requirements for an H1B Visa?

A ‘specialty occupation’ is required for H1B visa applicants to work in sectors including STEM, medical, educational, business studies, and more. Jobs that don’t necessitate any special education or training before the work begins will not be considered for H1B visas. To qualify for an H1B visa, all you need to do is:

  • Hold a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree.
  • Applicants must be well-versed in the relevant subject matter. 
  • Applicants should have an approved Labour Condition Application (LCA).

What is the H1B Quota?

There are only a limited number of H1B visas available each year, which can become competitive. These seats are given out in a randomized lottery by the USCIS. In a general year, 20,000 H1B petitions are authorized for those with Master’s degrees, and 65,000 applicants are approved which consists of a pool of Bachelor’s degrees, applicants of the Master’s degree that weren’t selected, and applicants with an equivalent degree. 

For the 2022 fiscal year, there were 308,613 applicants for H1B visas, which is more than the limit. You can apply for a petition after the initial registration window closes if there are fewer than 85,000 people registered.

List of Top Countries where US H1B Visa Holders Come From

It is interesting to note the number of highly skilled foreign nationals that are working in the United States of America. In view of H1B visa applicants in the USA, you might wonder what is the country of residence of these immigrants. 

In the last year itself, according to the USCIS, 419,637 foreign nationals had been employed in the United States under the H1B visa last year. However, do you know which country continues to predominate?

India 

Indians occupy the biggest number of the country’s H1B visa population. It is worth noting that 276,423 people received assistance in the fiscal year of 2017. It was determined that in the fiscal year 2017 a total of 67,815 Indian workers were employed for the first time in the United States. As of 2017, there were 208,608 Indians employed.

Among Indian H1B visa holders in the United States, there appears to be gender discrimination. Only 20.4% of the overall number of visa holders are women, to be more precise. There are 80 percent males in this group. India has the highest percentage of H1B visa holders in the United States (73.9 percent, according to official figures).

The other countries after India are as follows

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Canada
  • Philippines
  • United Kingdom
  • Taiwan
  • Mexico
  • France
  • Pakistan

Required Documents Checklist

  • A copy of your passport. 
  • A copy of educational degrees, certificates, or transcripts.
  • A letter confirming your current position. 
  • A copy of previous positions and experience in the work. 
  • Acceptance of LCA.
  • Tax return papers.
  • Copy of the Department of Justice’s letter. 
  • Copy of the letter sent to Consular General of the Indian Consulate. 
  • A description of job responsibilities with the sponsoring of the US company. 
  • Copy of the current (temporary) U.S. license. 
  • Resume accompanied by supporting certifications. 
  • Demand drafts should be issued for processing fees and issuance fees. 
  • Maximum 3 passport size photographs that should be colored. 
  • In the event of dependent members, copies of their marriage and birth certificates. 

Photo Requirements for H-1B Visa

USCIS requires a precise standard for your photo. There are a few requirements for the photos: 

  • Square shaped.
  • Colored photographs. 
  • Minimum Dimensions: 600 x 600 pixels.
  • Maximum Dimensions: 1200 x 12000 pixels. 
  • JPEG file format.
  • File size fewer than 240 KB. 

H1B Visa Fees

The fee for an H1B Visa can range from $1720 to $6470, depending on the type of fees, such as attorney costs, optional fees, and company conditions. Petitioners who aren’t randomly picked by lottery will have to pay the $10 registration fee. There are a number of fees that must be paid when applying for an H-1B visa.

FEEAMOUNTPAID BY
Registration Fee$10Employer
Basic Filing Fee$460Employer
Premium Processing$2500Employer or applicant
Attorney FeeVariableEmployer
Public Law 114 – 113 Fee$4000Employer
USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee$500Employer
ACWIA Education & Training FeeLess than 25 employees: $750More than 25 employees: $1500
Employer

H1B Visa Application Process

Step-I: Finding an H1B Sponsorer

For the H1B visa, an employer must sponsor the candidate before he or she can apply. To enter the United States on an H1B visa, you must be employed by a US company that will sponsor your entry into the country. Employers must be willing to sponsor foreign workers if they want to hire them. You don’t want to be hired for a job just to find out later that the company won’t help you relocate to the United States. From the beginning of your job application process, make it obvious that you will need sponsorship to enter the United States. Even if you suspect that an employer will ask this question while the applicant is filling out the application, you should avoid bringing it up in conversation with them directly.

STEP-II: Submission of LCA by the Employer

Employers in the United States can begin the visa application process by submitting an LCA to the DOL(Department of Labor) through the iCERT Portal System once you have been employed. There are many criteria that go into an LCA, including salary, location, and working conditions that are reported to the Department of Labor. This is a government-mandated document in which an employer certifies to the government that the wages and working conditions it will provide an employee are at least equal to or higher than those for a position in the area in question. As a complicated document, the LCA requires collaboration between you and your employer to ensure that it meets DOL standards.

STEP-III: Employer Files Form I-129

FORM I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, must be filed by the employer after the LCA has been authorized. For the employer to complete this stage successfully, they need to include the fees, education, experience evaluation, training certifications, professional membership documents, the applicant’s resume, employment agreement, and a letter of support. Some service centers may take as long as three or four months for a petition to be handled, depending on their workload. There is also a premium processing option, but it costs more.

STEP-IV: Applicant Submits Applications at the U.S. Embassy/ Consulate

The final stage is for the applicant to apply for a visa at their home country’s US Embassy or Consulate after the petition has been approved. Again, depending on the region, this can take anywhere from two to three days. 

Steps To Be Taken After Receiving H1B Visa Approval

The procedure of obtaining an H1B visa from the US embassy or consulate in your home country will begin after you have completed your employer’s registration and your petition has been selected for approval by the US government. The steps are as follows:

  • Fill out the DS-160 form online and take a picture of yourself that is clear and identifiable as you. To fill out the DS-160 form, you’ll have to pay approximately $190 in fees.
  • Visit Offsite Facilitation Center to have your biometric information measures, which includes fingerprints. Make sure to carry your passport and DS-160 confirmation pages while visiting the Center.
  • Schedule an interview 90 days before the commencement of your visa which is October 1st with the US Embassy in your country of residence. This allows you to get your interview as close to July 1st as possible without having to worry about the long wait.
  • During the interview, you will be asked largely about your purpose in the United States, your sponsoring employer, and your educational background. You’ll want to save all of your paperwork from the previous steps plus any paperwork from your I-797 notice of approval and your I-129 petition on hand. As at a job interview, conduct yourself professionally and politely.
  • After your visa application has been granted, you can begin planning your vacation to the United States. You must arrive in the United States no earlier than 10 days prior to the commencement date specified in your I-797 Form. 

H1B Visa Lottery

Each year the USCIS conducts a computer-generated random selection method to determine which H1B visa applicants will be approved. Because of the large amount of H1B visa petitions that were being received each year, the quotas had to be increased. As soon as the annual quota on visa applications is reached, the USCIS will select a random number of petitions to fulfill the requested number of petitions. 

Benefits of an Applicant with Master’s Degree

After the lottery pool is filled up with other applicants with a master’s degree, you will be able to apply directly to the program of your choice. The remaining master’s degree applications that weren’t accepted will be added to the lottery pool and put through the random selection procedure again after the visa cap is reached through that lottery pool. A master’s degree gives you twice as many chances to get a visa as someone with a bachelor’s degree does in the standard lottery pool.

Visa Caps 2021

The normal H1B pool was capped at 65,000 and the Master’s pool was capped at 20,000 for the fiscal year 2021. To be fair to the ordinary pool and the 95,885 Masters candidate applicants, the USCIS received 94,213 petitions in total.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is a considerably large number of H1B visa holders in the United States. There are many benefits for people working in the USA, i.e., advancement opportunities, self-development, acquiring further knowledge in your field of expertise, and the list is endless. There are a few challenges that do go unnoticed at times. Here is where MyTicketsToIndia, the leading travel portal comes in handy. 

The popular travel and tourism agency wishes to offer its customers only the best, such as providing detailed information about flights to the USA as well as flights to India, assistance with flight bookings, incredible flight deals, and discounts to travel within a budget and much more. Contact our travel consultants waiting to gladly assist you in a memorable trip. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What can I do if I am unable to make it to the H1B lottery? 

Here are a few options one can look into if their employer’s H1B registration is not selected in the lottery:

  • Find an opportunity with a Cap: Certain types of employers are exempted from the cap and aren’t required to participate in the lottery such as higher educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and government organizations.
  • Work Remotely in Country of Residence and Re-Apply: Contact the employer and see if any remote job opportunities are available. This option is viable as in current times, many companies have found working from home more reliable.
  • Apply for a New Visa or other Work Visa: Other visa options are L1 Visa, H2B Visa, and J1 Visa. 
  1. Do I need to purchase health insurance for H1B?

Generally, many employers provide insurance to their H1B visa holder employees. However, if the H1B visa holder does not receive one from the company, they must remember the exorbitant costs of medical services in the United States. If the applicant does not have medical insurance for their visit abroad, it is recommended that one must prevent financial hardships in the event you need medical attention. ISO offers H1B visa holders and their H4 dependents the ‘Voyager plan.’ This offers H1B and H4 Visa applicants essential coverage for injuries or sickness for $79 per month. 

  1. Is it possible to switch a job while on an H1B visa?

Yes, an H1B visa holder is allowed to switch jobs. However, transferring from one job to another requires the submission of a new visa application. The process is not difficult as it is the responsibility of the new employer to submit the petition and there is no requirement of entering the lottery. The applicant, however, must file an extension during this duration as your H1B expiration won’t change with the new petition. 

The applicant is an advantage here as multiple petitions can be filed on the applicant’s behalf by different organizations. In case, if one is denied the next one can be considered. Howbeit, if the applicant’s employment is terminated, then the H1B visa holder has sixty days to find work, after which they need to leave the country.

  1. Are H1B visa holders eligible to apply for the Green Card?

The H1B visa serves dual purposes, it enables foreign nationals to work in the United States, but they can also be eligible for permanent residency by the application of a Green Card. Therefore, if an H1B applicant is looking to settle in the U.S., they must start with the procedure of applying for a green card. Once the H1B visa gets expired, applying for a green card can be a tedious process.

  1. Am I allowed to bring my family along with me while traveling to the United States when I am an H1B visa holder?

Yes, an H1B applicant can bring his immediate families such as their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the U.S. under the H4 visa which is applicable for dependents. The spouse and children are permitted to study further but cannot work in the United States. 

  1. What is the time duration to file an H-1B visa after the LCA is approved?

The LCA is a document filed under the DOL, in which the procedures take up to 7 to 10 days. After the LCA is certified, filing the H1B visa is a very easy procedure, which is not at all time-consuming. Often, H1B visa holder employees can continue working with their LCA being pending. In this event, the applicant needs to show relevant documentation prevailing wage being met, the job position being a specialty occupation, and the assigned work covering the visa duration. 

H-1B Filing and Selection Period

Once the H-1B petition is filed, the duration of the selection process is four to six months. This depends on whether the petitioner of H-1B visa is subjected to the Cap or not. Cap-subject H-1B visa petitions are required to be filed in the first five days of April if the applicant wants to compete for the 65,000 available visas. Once USCIS fills the 65,000 cap-subject slots, another 20,000 visa petitions are selected for graduates of master’s degrees or higher programs. The selection procedure lasts through the summer. 

About Priyanka | View Posts

Priyanka Jadhav is a travel writer, who is inclined to explore different cultures and countries. When she is not writing, she is either reading fiction novels or surfing the internet for the next best place to add to her bucket list. Her interests piqued at a young age when she traveled across India and witnessed a variety of cultures, languages, foods, and people. If you're craving for an adrenaline rush, or need an instant travel update - Priyanka has a way with words to help you in every aspect possible. Bring quirky articles and the latest travel updates your way through MyTicketsToIndia, she aims to provide travelers with the necessary information possible.

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