The laws regarding the H-1B visa are in constant flux and applicants seriously considering this category as a means of working in the US on a temporary basis should stay informed and updated as much as possible. Because an applicants circumstances and the circumstances of his dependent family members may require special attention, the following information is not tailored to any one individual but provides general information about this category. The H-1B visa allows foreign workers to enter the US and work in a variety of fields ranging from architecture and engineering to health and medicine. The H-1B visa offers a wide range of employment possibilities and is a logical first step toward permanent immigration. In order to qualify for H-1B classification, the applicant must have at least a US bachelors degree or its equivalent AND the job sought must require at least a bachelors degree or its equivalent. Because this is not a self-petitioning category, the applicant must have a sponsoring employer in the US. The spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 are allowed to accompany or join the H-1B worker as H-4 dependents. However, they cannot work unless they qualify for a work visa. H-4 dependents can enroll and attend schools in the US without obtaining a student visa.
Because the H-1B visa requires a US sponsor, the applicant must seek a US employer who is willing to hire the applicant temporarily, pay the applicant the prevailing wage for the offered position and file the petition and supporting documents with Immigration. The petition process begins with the sponsoring employer filing a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor. Upon obtaining an approved LCA the employer files the petition with Immigration. The petition must be filed with documentation that shows the job is a professional or specialty occupation and that the H-1B applicant is qualified for the position. The sponsoring employer must file Form I-129 (Petition for Non-immigrant worker) and H supplement with the Immigration office having jurisdiction over the place of employment.
The employer must pay for form I-129. The fee is currently $320.00. In addition, there is a $500 Anti Fraud and Detection fee. Finally, if the company has 25 or more employees, there is a training fee of $1500.00. If the company has less than 25 employees, this fee is $750.00. Therefore, the total filing fee for a company with over 25 employees is $2,320.00.
If your company is filing an extension on your behalf after 3 years, the only fee is for form I-129, $320.00.
All employers must complete and file Form I-129W with the Form I-129 petition. If either the employer or the applicant wishes to expedite the H-1B petition so an initial determination is made within 15 days of the filing, it may request premium processing for an additional fee of $1,000. The request is made by completing Form I-907. After approval, Immigration will send Form I-797 (Notice of Action) to the employer. The employer then notifies the applicant and sends all the required documents to the applicant who can then apply for his H-1B visa at the US consulate in his home country.
Both the applicant and the employer are required to submit documents for the H-1B visa. The applicant is required to submit the following documents when applying for an H-1B visa abroad:
- A completed visa application (Form OF 156) with one recent photograph, 1 inches square (37mm x 37mm), of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
- Form I-797 (Notice of Action)
- Copy of the approved Labor Condition Application (LCA)
- Copy of the filed and approved I-129H petition and supporting documentation which should include:
- the applicants academic record,
- education evaluation verifying that the applicants foreign academic record is equivalent to a US bachelors degree,
- recommendation letters from previous employers (if required),
- proof of any membership in relevant trade or professional organizations, and
- a letter from your employer detailing the job and its requirements.
- Current or updated letter from the employer confirming its intention to hire the applicant according the terms and conditions on its approved petition.
- Employers most recent financial records or tax returns.
It is the employers responsibility to send the items listed in numbers 3 through 7 above to the applicant. Visa fees associated with obtaining the H-1B visa vary from country to country.