An H1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa of the USA that allows a foreign worker to enter the United States to work for an American registered company and its employer. The foreign worker must be skilled in the field required by the employer and meet the employer’s requirements.
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Visa Application Process
The sponsor of an applicant for an H1B visa is their U.S. employer, who has shared an offer letter to employ them. Employers will pay the visa fees for applicants and submit the required documents to USCIS to get an H1B visa ( H1 B petition + H1B visa stamp ) so that they can work in the U.S.
After the H1B petition has been approved, you will receive the stamp on your passport from the appropriate U.S. consulate.
Before we can discuss who is eligible for an H1B Visa and how to apply, it is essential to understand the H1B Visa lottery process which is the first step.
H1B Visa Lottery
The U.S. uses the H1B lottery to select H1B visa applicants for approval randomly. This is done in response to the fact that the number of H1B visa applications received each year exceeds the visa quotas.
The USCIS randomly chooses the required number if the annual visa limit is exceeded.
Caps on H1B Visas every year
The H1B Visa Caps are for a Fiscal Year, say 2022.
- 65,000 for H1B Regular Pool
- 20,000 for Master’s Candidates
Master’s Degree Benefits
Your application will be first entered into a lottery pool of master’s candidates if you hold a master’s degree from the USA. Once that lottery pool has reached its visa cap (20,000), it will penetrate any remaining master’s applications in the remainder of the lottery pool (65,000). They will then go through the random selection process once again.
A master’s degree gives you two chances to be selected for visas. In contrast, a bachelor’s only degree allows you to enter the regular lottery pool.
What happens if you aren’t selected?
USCIS won’t allow you to apply for an H1B petition request if you are not selected for the H1B lottery. The following year, you can submit your application to be chosen again. However, you will have the same chance as anyone else in any year.
Let’s now look at the H1B visa lottery rules and caps. We will also discuss how to apply for an H1B Visa.
Critical dates for H1B Visa Lottery
If you planned to apply for an H1B visa by 2022, there are some key dates that you should have kept in mind. Every year has separate dates like this for each step. These were the dates for yr 2022, any year dates are pretty close to these:
- March 1,2022 – H1B registration opened at 12 noon EST
- March 18, 2022 – The H1B Registration Period closed at 12 noon EST
- March 31 – The date by which USCIS intends to notify selected registrants
- April 1 – FY2022 H1B cap-subject petitions can be filed
H1B Visa Requirements
To be eligible for an H1B visa, both the applicant and the employer must meet these requirements:
- The applicant should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree (or a foreign equivalent).
- The applicant must have a deep understanding of the subject matter
- For the job, the degree required is common
- Work must need a specialist in the occupation.
- The employer must be a USA registered company and must show that there are no qualified U.S. applicants for this position and that is why they are looking for foregin workers on H1 B visa.
* If the applicant has at least 12 years of work experience in specialized fields, they can skip this requirement
** An example is an M.D. For a surgeon
USCIS defines specialty occupations as occupations in which the nature of the specific duties is so complex that knowledge is required to perform them. These fields can be used for H1B visas, including but not limited to:
- Business Specialties
- Medicine & Health
If both the employer and applicant meet the above requirements, they can proceed with the application for the H1B visa.
H1B Visa Fees
Although filing an H1B Application is not cheap, the employer sponsoring the applicant will pay most of the filing fees. The following prices are typical for H1B applications:
- $ 460 Basis Filing Fee
- $ 500 Fraud detection and prevention fee
- ACWIA fees
- Employers with 1-25 full-time workers pay $ 750 ACWIA fees
- Employers with 26+ full-time workers pay a $ 1,500 ACWIA Fee
- Optional Premium Processing Fee: $2,500
- USCIS Fees for H-4 = $370 + $85 (Biometrics per applicant)
- PL-114-113 fee of $4000 applies for employers with 50 or more
total employees and 50% of those are on H-1B/L-1. You can visit on Visa Page for more detail on this.
The employer cannot choose and pay for Premium Processing. This is important to remember. To protect employees from employers trying to force them into choosing Premium Processing, the employer must show proof that employees have chosen Premium Processing. Most employers end up paying the fee because it reduces the processing time for the LCA by only 15 days.
There are many reasons why H1B Visas are denied.
Not everyone can be approved for an H1B Visa. Here are the top four reasons applicants are denied an H1B Visa.
- The employer isn’t an American company that can hire and pay H-1B workers.
- Employer fails to prove that there is an employer-employee partnership
- The required education and experience are not available to the foreign worker.
- The job offer does not satisfy the key requirement for “specialized knowledge” for H1B visa.
H1B Visa Duration
An H1B visa can be extended up to six years after approval of the H1B Visa application.
Quitting or getting fired in an H1B Visa
Suppose your sponsoring employer terminates your visa sponsorship. In that case, you’ll need to find a new employer, complete new paperwork, and apply for a change in status. Or you could be deported to your home country. You have 60 days’ grace period to find a new employer and submit your green card application.
Your employer will pay for your return travel costs if you are deported. You can still apply for an H1B visa if a U.S. firm employs you after deportation. However, you must go through the application process again as a new applicant.
Green Card Process – H1B Visa
An H1B visa holder may wonder, “what’s next?” after they have reached their maximum stay of 6 years in total in the U.S.
- Return to their homeland or
- Apply for a green card to permanent residence in the U.S.
The H1B visa, unlike most other visas, is a dual intent visa. This means the applicant can apply for access to reside in the U.S. permanently. The H1B visa holder can apply for their green cards while still an H1B visa holder.