Complete guide to obtaining an H1B visa, eligbility, requirements, and FAQs
The H1B visa is a temporary work visa that allows US employers to hire highly qualified foreign workers for specialty jobs. To qualify for the H1B visa, you must possess an advanced educational degree such as a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s or Doctoral Degree, or have advanced training or vocational skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Examples of job positions that may qualify for the H1B visa include IT specialists, architects, accountants, professors, doctors, and lawyers. The H1B visa process starts with a US employer, who must have an open job position and be unable to find a qualified American employee to fill it. The employer initiates the process by filing a Labor Condition Application and a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The applications for H1B visas are subject to a cap, with 65,000 petitions approved per year, starting from October 1st to September 30th of the following year, and 6,800 petitions reserved for H1B1 visas for Chile and Singapore nationals. To apply for the H1B visa, you must find a petitioner (employer) who is willing to initiate the process, and then apply for the visa at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate in your home country.
H1B Visa Dates in 2023
The registration process dates for an H1B visa are as follows:
- March 2 – Petitioners (employers) can start creating an H1B registrant account at noon US Eastern time.
- March 9 to March 25 – H1B registration period. The registration period opens and closes at noon US Eastern time.
- March 31 – By this date, the USCIS will have notified the selected entrants.
- April 1 – if your employer’s petition was selected, this is the earliest date that you may submit an application for an H1B visa for FY 2022.
How to Apply for the H1B Visa?
Here are the steps you need to go through in order to apply for the H1B visa:
- Make sure you qualify for the H1B visa.
- Find a petitioner by applying for a job opening in the United States.
- Have the petitioning initiated by your employer.
- Apply for the H1B visa at the nearest US Embassy/Consulate in your home country.
H1B Visa Petitioning Process for Employers
Here are the steps that employers need to go through to petition a foreign worker:
- Have a Labor Condition Application (LCA).
- File a petition with USCIS.
- Fill in form I-129.
- Submit the forms and the documents file.
- Wait for the review from USCIS.
Have a Labor Condition Application (LCA)
The US employer must get an approved Labor Conditions Application (LCA) from the US Department of Labor. This certifies that the US employer can hire foreign workers. It also states that the employer will offer them fair compensation and treatment. Finally, it proves that the employer must hire a foreign worker because a US citizen is not qualified, available, or willing to work in that job position.
In that form, they should indicate the number of years that they will hire foreign workers. This form guarantees the US and the employees that this employer will:
- Pay the foreign employee the full prevailing wage.
- Provide an adequate working environment and conditions.
- Notify the employee of any changes made in the labor certification.
- Notify the government of the location where the work will be performed.
- Provide company information and the number of employees.
- State employee job description and income.
Steps to Apply for an H1B Visa
The H1B Application is filled by the applicant. In addition to the employers, employees or H1B applicants also have to complete these steps:
- Fill in Form DS-160. The DS-160 is the most important part of the application. You need to follow all instructions and provide accurate information.
- Schedule an interview. Try to schedule the interview as early as possible. US Embassies take time to process each request, so the earlier you make the appointment, the better it will be for you.
- Pay the H1B visa fees. The application fee is $190.
- Submit required documents for H1B Visa.
- Attend the H1B interview. During the interview, you should have your documents and be prepared to answer extensive questions about your place of work and your specific job. If it is your first time applying, they will also take your fingerprints which will be saved in the US system.
Required Documents for an H1B Visa Application
After you have paid the H1B visa fees, you must submit the required documents for employees as listed below:
- Your current passport.
- Copy of your current passport pages.
- All previous passports.
- Receipts that prove you have paid your visa fees.
- A photograph which meets the Digital Image Requirements.
- Visa interview appointment letter (Original and 1 copy).
- Printed Form I-129 Receipt number and the original and 1 copy of Form I-129.
- Copy of Form I-797.
- Letter from your employer with your job description.
- Your qualifications (diplomas and certifications).