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What You Need To Know About The US H-1B Visa

What You Need To Know About The US H-1B Visa

The US has been a dream destination for professionals around the world for decades. To facilitate the pursuit of the American Dream and help those looking to work in the United States, the US government has a number of temporary programs for foreign workers, such as the H-1B, H-1B1, H-1B2, H-1B3 and E-3 visas. In this article, we’re going to tell you more about the H-1B visa. 

If you’re looking for companies that sponsor the H-1B visa for employees, you can use HiCounselor’s free resource here

General Overview of the H-1B Requirements

The H-1B visa was created to allow companies to hire foreign workers temporarily for positions that can be considered specialized. H-1B specialty occupations span sectors like architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine/health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology and the arts.

The Job Criteria for the H-1B Program

To provide this visa, the job usually needs theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge and at least a Bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent). The degree should be required for parallel positions in similar organizations or the job should be complex/unique enough that it requires an individual with a degree. 

The Candidate Criteria for the H-1B Program

To get this visa, you have to meet some requirements as well. You should have either a US Bachelor’s (or higher) degree from an accredited institute, specialized training or progressively responsible experience related to the specialty occupation. A foreign degree can also work as long as it is equivalent to the US degree. 

Another way to get an H-1B visa is to get an unrestricted state license, registration or certification that lets you practice the specialty occupation and be immediately employed in that specialty in the state where you want to work.

The H-1B Cap

For each petition they receive, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) checks to see if it falls within the congressionally mandated cap of 65,000 H-1B visas (called the “regular cap”) or the advanced degree exemption. The exemption excludes the H-1B cap for those who have a US Master’s degree (or higher) and can be given until the number of exempt workers exceeds 20,000.

Sometimes the H-1B cap can exceed 65,000. For example, up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the 65,000 each year in keeping with the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore free trade agreements. If these go unused one fiscal year, they are available for H-1B use the next year. 

H-1B Electronic Registration Process

In 2020, an electronic registration process was implemented for the H-1B program. If you want to file petitions (whether cap-subject or advanced degree exemption), you must first electronically register and pay the $10 H-1B registration fee for each beneficiary. 

As part of this process, both petitioners/registrants and their authorized representatives (who want to hire the workers) provide basic information about the petitioner and each requested worker. An initial registration period is open for a minimum of 14 calendar days each fiscal year. The H-1B selection is then run on properly submitted electronic registrations. Only those selected can then file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

Since selections only take place after the registration period is over, there’s no rush to register on the day the registration period opens. It is also pretty easy and uncomplicated to create an online account on the site. 

What’s A Labor Condition Application?

Agents and employers of speciality occupation workers or fashion models have to get a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL). Violations of any attestations in the LCA can result in fines, bars on sponsoring nonimmigrant or immigrant petitions and other sanctions. 

To get an LCA, the employer or agent has to agree to pay the H-1B worker a salary no less than what’s paid to similarly qualified workers or, if greater, the prevailing wage for the position in the region where the employee will work. They also have to provide working conditions that will not harm other similarly employed workers. There shouldn’t be a strike or lockout during the filing of an LCA and a filing notice should be given to the union bargaining representative or posted at the place of employment.

H-1B Petition Filing Process

For speciality occupation or fashion model petitions, an employer or agent has to apply for and receive a DOL certification of an LCA. The employer/agent then must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the correct USCIS service center. For specialty occupation and fashion models, the LCA should be submitted with Form I-129.

Once Form I-129 is approved, the H-1B worker looking to get to the US has to apply with the US Department of State (DOS) at a US embassy or consulate for a visa. After that, the prospective H-1B worker should apply to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for admission to the country under H-1B classification.

Duration of H-1B Visa

An employee with a H-1B status may be allowed to stay for a period of up to three years. This time period can be extended, but generally doesn’t exceed six years. Some exceptions do apply under sections 104(c) and 106(a) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21), 8 CFR 214.2(h)(13)(iii)(D) and (E).

An employer is liable for the reasonable costs of return transportation if the employment is terminated before the end of the authorized stay. If a worker with a H-1B status voluntarily leaves their occupation, an employer is not liable to pay the costs of the return transportation.

Families of H-1B Visa Workers

Spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of H-1B visa holders can seek entry into the US under the H-4 nonimmigrant classification. Since May 2015, some H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants can file Form I-765, as long as the H-1B nonimmigrant has already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status. 

Working in the United States is not a distant dream but an attainable target as long as you ensure you follow the right practices. Getting an H-1B status is easier when you’ve got the right employer by your side! If you’re looking for a well-paying and dependable job in the US, get in touch with us at HiCounselor and let our experts accelerate your career! 

You can also browse companies that help employees with the H-1B visa here. We’ve added information like recruiter names, locations and even their alma mater to help you connect with them more easily! You can also use the Search feature to narrow down your options.