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Everything you ever wanted to know about H-1B visas (and how to get one)

Everything you ever wanted to know about H-1B visas (and how to get one)

Are you considering moving to the United States for a job? You may have heard that the H-1B visa is an option for business immigration, but it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction regarding this type of work permit.

What is an H-1B visa?

At Lorenzo Law Group, we’re no strangers to navigating the complex landscape of immigration and visas. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on understanding what an H-1B visa really is, including:

  • H-1B eligibility requirements
  • H-1B application procedures
  • Quick tips for a successful application
  • How an immigration attorney can help with your H-1B application
  • Common H-1B questions and answers

We understand how daunting the process can be and are here with decades of expertise to help make your journey smoother. Whether you’re already looking at relocating or just want some general information about securing an H-1B visa — read on!

Overview of the H-1B visa

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers — typically in specialty occupations — temporarily.

H-1B is considered a “dual intent” class of visa. That means you may enter the US with the intent to both work and later obtain a green card.

What is the H-1B visa for?

This type of visa provides an opportunity for foreigners to work and live in the United States for three years with the possibility of extending their stay for another three years.

H-1B visas allow those employed within the United States ample time to broaden their professional experience as well as establish themselves in the country.

Husband, wife and children obtain residence through business visas!

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In addition to providing highly skilled workers with employment opportunities, the H-1B visa also helps US companies fill gaps in skilled labor when no qualified American citizen or permanent resident is available.

H-1B visa eligibility requirements

To qualify, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, including:

  • Having an offer of employment from a U.S. employer who has sponsored them for a job that calls for a specialized set of skills or knowledge
  • Holding at least a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) relevant to the field
  • And, having English language proficiency

In addition, those applying for the visa must demonstrate that they have not been out of work for more than a year and will be able to show proof of adequate financial means to support themselves during their stay.

How to apply for an H-1B visa, step-by-step

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to bring highly skilled foreign workers onto their payroll.

This visa is both highly sought after and heavily regulated, making the application process more involved than other types of visas.

To ensure the best chance of success for your application, here is a step-by-step guide to applying for an H-1B visa:

  1. Obtain a sponsor
  2. Submit supporting documents
  3. Apply at an American embassy or consulate
  4. Receive your visa

This is the simplified version — read on for more details.

Step 1: Secure a sponsor

The first step in the process is to identify and obtain an employer sponsor who will offer you a job. Your sponsor must be able to provide evidence that they are willing and able to pay you wages comparable to U.S. citizens performing similar work.

Once you have secured a sponsorship agreement, you must complete Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, which your employer will file with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Step 2: Gather documentation

Next, you must submit documentation proving that you are qualified for the position and demonstrate that you meet all requirements for the H-1B visa program such as:

  • Educational certification
  • Qualifications from a licensing agency
  • Relevant experience in the field

You must also include evidence that you have sufficient funds available to support yourself during your stay in the United States.

Step 3: Apply at your local consulate or embassy

Once USCIS has approved Form I-129 and accepted it into processing, you may then apply for an H-1B visa at an American embassy or consulate abroad with form DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.

When applying for the visa itself, applicants should be prepared to present certain documents such as:

  • Valid passport
  • Recent photographs
  • Proof of financial stability
  • Medical records
  • Proof of payment of required fees
  • And, any necessary letters or certificates regarding specialized knowledge or experience related to the job position being offered by the US employer sponsor.

After submitting all necessary documents and attending any interviews required by the consulate staff, you will receive a decision on your application.

Step 4: Receive your visa

If approved, your H-1B visa will be issued with an expiration date typically no more than three years later than its issue date (but extensions are possible).

With extensions, the maximum duration of your H-1B visa is typically capped at six years.

It’s important to remember that each country has its regulations regarding processing times so make sure to plan ahead to avoid any potential delays in obtaining your H-1B visa!

Tips for a successful H-1B application

When it comes to preparing for an H-1B application, it is important to be proactive and organized to ensure success. Here are some tips to help you with this important process.

Research

Before you start the H-1B process, it is essential to research the employer and specialty occupation you are applying for. Be sure to look up any requirements that apply and make sure you meet them before applying. Additionally, look into any fees or documents you may need to submit with your application.

Preparation

Once you have completed your research, begin to prepare the necessary paperwork such as copies of your passport and educational transcripts. Double-check all information on your application form for accuracy. Additionally, ask someone who is experienced in the field to review your documents before submission.

Deadlines

Make sure that you keep track of important deadlines associated with the H-1B visa process. This includes filing times for both the Labor Condition Application (LCA) and Notice of Filing (NOF) forms. If necessary, consider hiring a professional immigration attorney who can help guide you through this complex process.

Documentation

Be prepared to provide detailed evidence that proves that your job falls under one of the recognized “specialty occupations” categories. You may be asked to submit documents such as official job offer letters or work contracts. These may detail wages, duties, and responsibilities associated with the position.

Proof of qualifications

You may be asked for proof that includes job history, education credentials, certifications or licenses related to your specific position.

All in all, being prepared ahead of time can make all the difference when applying for an H-1B visa category, and help mitigate delays.

How can an immigration lawyer help with the H-1B process?

A qualified lawyer can help make the process easier and more efficient. Your lawyer can:

  • Determine which visa classification you should apply for
  • Complete paperwork accurately
  • Represent the petitioner in court
  • Advise the petitioner on eligibility requirements
  • Answer questions
  • Monitor application progress
  • Keep up-to-date on US immigration news and legal changes

Overall, having an experienced immigration lawyer by your side during this process is highly beneficial for getting the best results.

“Lorenzo Law Group helped me and my family obtain green cards. Even though we were a tough case, he helped us all the way and never gave up.”

Ines G.

Ready to get your business visa?

The H-1B visa offers many opportunities for highly skilled foreign workers to come to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. If you think that you meet the eligibility requirements for an H-1B visa, follow the steps in this guide to apply.

This post has answered some common questions about H-1B visas, but if you have more specific questions or need legal assistance with your case, contact Lorenzo Law Group.

Our team of experienced immigration lawyers can help you navigate the H-1B application process and increase your chances of securing a visa.

Ready to get started on your immigration journey? Contact Lorenzo Law Group today, and let’s make your American Dream a reality.

Common H-1B visa questions, answered

Do you still have questions about the H-1B visa process? We have answers.

1. What is an H-1B visa?

An H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to work in the United States for up to three years.

To be eligible for this visa, you must possess a high level of education or specialized skills and experience that qualifies you as a “specialty occupation” in the eyes of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).

2. Who is eligible for an H-1B visa?

To be eligible for an H-1B visa, you must possess a combination of education and experience that would qualify you as a specialist in your field.

Specifically, you must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited U.S. institution, or the equivalent in an approved foreign educational institution.

Additionally, the applicant must have at least three years of experience in their specialty field or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

3. How do I apply for an H-1B visa?

To successfully apply for an H-1B visa, several steps must be taken. First, the employer must submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the U.S. Department of Labor. This certifies that the position being offered meets the requirements for an H-1B specialty occupation.

Once the LCA is approved, the employer must then submit an I-129 form to USCIS along with all required supporting documents. In some cases, the foreign national applying for the visa may also be required to attend an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate.

4. How long is an H-1B visa valid?

Once approved, an H-1B visa is valid for up to three years. The employee may extend their stay beyond the original three-year period, for a total of six years. After this time has elapsed, the foreign national must either return home or apply for another type of visa.

5. Can I extend my H-1B visa?

Yes, it is possible to extend an H-1B visa. To do so, the employer must submit a new LCA and I-129 form to USCIS. Additionally, the foreign national may be required to attend an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate.

6. Can I change employers while on an H-1B visa?

Yes, it is possible to change employers while on an H-1B visa. However, the new employer must submit a new LCA and I-129 form to USCIS to extend the foreign national’s stay in the United States.

The labor condition application must be approved before the individual can move to a new job.

7. What are the H-1B visa requirements for employers?

To hire foreign workers with an H-1B visa, employers must submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the U.S. Department of Labor. This certifies that the position meets the requirements for an H-1B specialty occupation.

Additionally, employers are required to pay at least the prevailing wage for their region and industry, as determined by the Department of Labor.

Finally, employers must provide certain paperwork to foreign nationals applying for an H-1B visa. These include a valid employment contract and evidence of any required licensing.

8. How many H-1B visas are available each year?

The number of H-1B visas available each year is limited by Congress. Currently, 65,000 new H-1B visas are made available annually. There are an additional 20,000 for those who have earned a master’s degree or higher from a US institution.

9. What are the consequences of violating the terms of an H-1B visa?

Violating the terms of an H-1B visa can have serious consequences, including deportation, fines, and other penalties.

People who violate the terms of their visa may also be ineligible to apply for another visa in the future. As such, it is important to understand the requirements and restrictions associated with an H-1B visa before agreeing to any terms.

10. What if my employer goes out of business while I have an H-1B visa?

If your employer goes out of business while you have an H-1B visa, it is important to take immediate steps to find a new job.

You may be able to transfer the H-1B visa to another employer if they are willing to sponsor you and submit a new LCA and I-129 form. If no other employers are willing to sponsor you, then you must leave the United States.

11. I have an H-1B visa. Can my spouse and children come to the United States on an H4 visa?

Yes. Spouses and children of H-1B visa holders may be eligible to come to the United States on an H4 visa.

12. Can I get a green card after getting an H-1B visa?

Yes, it is possible to apply for permanent residency or a green card after getting an H-1B visa. That’s because H-1B visas are considered “dual intent,” not just for work purposes.

You must first have your employer submit an I-140 petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If approved, you may then apply for a green card through the USCIS.

13. What are the benefits of an H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa provides numerous benefits for foreign workers and their employers.

For the employee, it allows them to live and work in the United States for up to six years, with the potential to extend it further. It also gives them access to health insurance and other employee benefits that they wouldn’t be able to access otherwise.

14. What are the drawbacks of an H-1B visa?

One of the main drawbacks of an H-1B visa is that it’s only valid for six years. After that, you must either leave the country or apply for permanent residency.

Furthermore, the H-1B visa is only available to certain types of professionals. And, employers must submit extensive paperwork to obtain one for a foreign national.

15. Are there any risks in applying for an H-1B visa?

Yes, there are certain risks associated with applying for an H-1B visa. Employers must ensure that all their paperwork is in order and that they are compliant with the regulations of the U.S. Department of Labor.

If any mistakes are made or regulations are violated then it could result in fines or penalties for both employers and foreign nationals.

16. What are the odds that my H-1B visa gets approved or rejected?

The odds of an H-1B visa being approved or rejected depending on many factors, including the type of job and the applicant’s qualifications.

The U.S. Department of Labor also has strict requirements for employers who are sponsoring foreign nationals. That’s why it’s important to make sure all paperwork is in order before submitting a petition.

Generally, the odds of approval are higher for highly-skilled positions and people with impressive credentials. The overall acceptance rate of H-1B petitions is roughly two-thirds.

17. Can you appeal a denied H-1B visa?

Yes, if an H-1B visa petition is denied then you may submit an appeal to the U.S. Department of Labor.

This must be done within 30 days of receiving notice of the denial and it requires providing additional evidence or information that could help overturn the decision.

It is important to note, however, that appeals are rarely successful. Additionally, if the reason for the denial is deemed to be fraudulent then there is no chance of appeal.

18. Are there any other visa options if I can’t get an H-1B visa?

Yes, there are other visa options for foreign nationals who are unable to obtain an H-1B.

Depending on your qualifications and circumstances, you may be eligible for several different nonimmigrant visas such as F-1 (student visa), J-1 (exchange visitor visa) or O-1 (extraordinary ability visa).

Additionally, employers may be able to sponsor their foreign employees for Green Card status through the PERM labor certification process.

19. Can I check the status of my H-1B visa application?

Yes, you can check the status of your H-1B visa application by visiting the USCIS website. On the website, you can enter your case number and view the current processing times as well as any updates that have been made.

Additionally, you may also receive email notifications regarding the status of your application.

20. Can I expedite my H-1B application?

Yes, employers can request expedited processing of their H-1B application by filing a “premium processing” petition. This will require an additional fee and must be filed along with the regular H-1B application.

If approved, the USCIS will process the application within 15 days instead of several months. It is important to note, however, that not all H-1B applications qualify for expedited processing.

21. Can I travel outside the US with an H-1B visa?

Yes, you can travel outside the U.S. with an H-1B visa as long as you maintain valid immigration status in the country.

Before leaving the U.S., you must obtain a valid travel document, such as an I-94. This will allow you to re-enter the country.

In addition, you should keep copies of all your immigration documents in case you are questioned by customs officials. If you wish to stay abroad for longer than six months, then you may need to apply for a re-entry permit before leaving the U.S.

22. Who can sponsor an H-1B visa?

Employers can sponsor an H-1B visa for a foreign national who is eligible to work in the U.S. The employer must be registered with the Department of Labor and demonstrate that the position requires skills or knowledge that cannot normally be found among U.S. workers.

Furthermore, employers must comply with all labor laws and regulations regarding hiring foreign nationals. They must also provide evidence of the individual’s qualifications and salary that meets or exceeds the local market rate for similar positions.

The employer has to submit all necessary documents, such as the Labor Condition Application, to the USCIS for you to receive the visa.

23. What is the H1B1 visa?

The H1B1 visa is a nonimmigrant work visa specially designed for nationals of Singapore and Chile. It allows citizens of these two countries to enter the U.S. and stay for up to one year to take part in a professional job position.

To be eligible, you must meet the same requirements as any other H-1B worker, including possessing specialized skills or knowledge and a valid job offer from a U.S. employer.

Additionally, employers must comply with the same labor laws and regulations as they would for any other H-1B worker. The H1B1 visa is renewable each year, provided that you meet all the necessary criteria.

24. What is the H-1B lottery?

The H-1B lottery is a selection process put in place by the USCIS to randomly select people who have applied for an H-1B visa.

The lottery is used when the number of applicants exceeds the annual cap on H-1B visas, which is usually 65,000 plus an additional 20,000 visas available under certain conditions.

Applicants who are selected in the lottery will then be able to continue with their application. Those who are not chosen must wait until the following year to reapply. The H-1B lottery is conducted each April, and winners are usually notified by June or July.

While it is possible to increase your chances of being selected in the lottery, there is no guarantee that you will be chosen.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that all of your documents are up-to-date and accurate before applying.

About

Hi I'm Carlos Lorenzo, owner and lead attorney at Lorenzo Law Group. Immigration applications are tough, exhausting and confusing. Which is why I started this firm. We'll handle your case quickly, affordably, and accurately from start to finish. Reach out today and let's get to work.

*The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.

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