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What is an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B Visa enables US employers to recruit staff from an overseas country to fill a gap in a speciality occupation.
Once an H-1B visa application is awarded, the holder can stay in the US is usually three years, but this can be extended. The maximum period you can stay on H1B is six years in total, though USCIS may allow a longer stay in some circumstances.
There are a number of criteria that must be met in order to quality for the H-1B Work Visa and you should make sure you fulfil the requirements before submitting your application as visa fees are non-refundable in most cases.
What is a Speciality Occupation?
The key requirement is that the job role you plan to undertake in the US must be classed as a speciality occupation.
This means that you must have a level of knowledge and expertise in a particular field. Many roles are included on the H-1B Visa speciality occupation list, such as architect, physician or teacher.
If you need to find out if your occupation covers a Speciality Occupation contact us at IAS and we can help assess the suitability of your job role. We’re easy to contact online or telephone us at +44 (0) 3316300929.
H-1B Eligibility Requirements
In addition to your role meeting the requirements, you must be able to demonstrate that the job opportunity could not be filled by someone already resident in the US.
There are also requirements to have a certain level of academic experience and most H-1B visa applications will need to be able to provide proof of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification.
Exceptions to this requirement can be made if the applicant has significant work experience that is relevant to the role. For example, if you worked for four years or more as a paraprofessional or you studied for accountancy qualifications over a four-year period or more that could be considered to be equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the H-1B visa application.
H-1B Visa Fees
There are a number of costs involved with applying for H-1B Visa and they can vary depending on individual circumstances.
However, generally you can expect the H-1B visa fees to cost between $1,700 and $6,500 for the full H-1B visa process.
There is also a $10 cost to register for the lottery system for eligible applicants.
After registration, there will also be a H-1B visa fee to pay for the filing of the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129). This costs $460.
After that, there will be other fees payable to whatever authority is dealing with your visa application. You can also choose whether or not to have your visa application premium processed. This means it is dealt with within 15 calendar days. This costs another $2,500 if you opt for the quicker processing option.
What is the H-1B Visa Process?
Once you have been accepted to apply for an H-1B visa your sponsor (the company that has offered you a job) will submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the DOL (Department of Labor). This form applies to the DOL for a certificate which confirms you will get the same wages as other staff with similar qualifications and that your working conditions won’t affect other staff.
When your employer receives the DOL certification they can then fill in form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker). Both of these documents need to be filed with any other necessary evidence, for example, your qualification certificates, training course evidence or professional membership papers. You will also need to enclose the offer of employment letter and the appropriate H-1B visa fees.
After the application has been approved there is another step you need to take, which step though depends on whether or not you are already in the United States.
If you are already in the United States on another visa you cannot start your new job until the H-1b visa status is active.
If you are outside the United States then you need to have an interview at the American Consulate or embassy. This means you must fill in Form DS-160 and enclose it with the appropriate fee. Once this form has been processed you will be asked to attend an interview at a consulate or embassy near you.
What Documents Do I Need to Take to the H-1B Interview?
You need to bring the following documents:
- A valid passport that will have at least months left to run on the day you enter the United States
- The printout of the confirmation page of your D160 form
- A photocopy of your I-129 approved petition together with a copy of your I-797 approval form
- Receipts for your application fees
- A passport-sized photograph which adheres to the requirements of the US State
There are no set questions at the interview but it is likely that you will be asked about your job offer, your employer, your work experience and some personal questions about yourself and your family.
If you need any help preparing your paperwork then get in touch with us at Immigration Advice Service and we can tell you exactly what documents you will need to present at an interview. Call us on +44 (0) 3316300929 for help and advice seven days a week.
What is the H-1B Visa Cap?
US immigration services only issue a certain number of H-1B visas in a year. The H-1B visa cap is designed to limit the number of applications because demand is so high.
A total of 65,000 can be issued in a fiscal year, plus another 20,000 are available to H-1B visa applicants that hold a master’s degree or higher awarded by an American college or university.
The visa cap does not apply to sponsoring employers who are an institute of higher education, a government research organisation or a nonprofit organisation that is connected to an institute of higher education.
Can I Apply to the Lottery System?
The US lottery system is not open to people who were born in Nigeria with Nigerian parents. If you were born outside Nigeria or your parents were born outside Nigeria, then you can apply.
The application to enter the lottery is carried out online. The first step is to register with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Once you have registered you then pay a fee and fill in a form with information about the employer who wants to sponsor you and some personal details about yourself. You don’t have to register yourself. If you prefer, you can ask an attorney or a representative to register on your behalf. Registration is open for 14 days out of each year.
You will be able to view the decision online, which will tell you whether or not you have been successful.
How Can IAS Help?
We know that the process of applying for a H-1B Visa can be overwhelming and that is why IAS is here to help you.
You can contact us for assistance whether you’re just starting out with your visa application or if you need help at any time during the application process.
Last modified on October 26th, 2023 at 12:04 pm
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Your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 may be able to come with you if you hold an H-1B visa. Each application is based on its merits and therefore not all applicants will have to demonstrate the same requirements.
Yes, once you have an H-1B visa you can make an application for a Green Card. This is a lengthy process and complicated process and you should consider seeking the help of an immigration specialist to provide support and advice.
No, you must have a valid job offer in place before applying. The H-1B visa requirements state that you must have a valid job offer from a US company that holds an FRS tax ID number.
You will lose your H-1B visa status and you and your family will have 60 days from the date you were made unemployed to find a new job or return to Nigeria. Under certain conditions, you may be able to switch employers with your H-1B visa without losing your status.