Key Factors to Consider When Applying for a US H1B (Qualified Worker) Visa
The US H1B (Qualified Worker) Visa is a popular visa category that is designed for foreign individuals who are highly skilled in a specialty occupation. The visa allows them to work in the United States for a particular period of time, usually up to three years, and to have an opportunity to obtain permanent residency in the future. However, the H1B visa application process can be complex and time-consuming, and there are a few key factors you should consider before you apply.
Here are some of the most important factors to keep in mind:
1. Your Eligibility
To apply for an H1B visa, you must meet several eligibility criteria, including:
- You must have a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the field that you plan to work in.
- The job position you’re applying for must be a specialty occupation, meaning it requires specialized knowledge or skills.
- Your employer must file the H1B petition on your behalf.
- Your proposed income must meet the prevailing wage for your job position and location.
2. Your Employer’s Eligibility
Your employer must meet several eligibility criteria to apply for an H1B visa, including:
- They must be a US-based company or organization.
- They must have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
- They must have the ability to pay your salary, and this must be demonstrated by providing financial documentation.
3. The H1B Cap
Each year, the US government imposes a cap on the number of H1B visas that can be issued. For the fiscal year 2022, the H1B visa cap is set at 85,000, with 65,000 visas reserved for regular applicants and an additional 20,000 visas reserved for those with advanced degrees from US universities. This means that there is a limited number of visas available, and the competition for them can be fierce.
There are specific timelines to keep in mind when applying for an H1B visa. The application window usually opens on April 1st, and the deadline for submitting your application is typically the first week of April. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes the applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, it is vital to submit your application as soon as possible, as the visa cap is met quickly.
5. The application process
The H1B visa application process can be lengthy and complex. Your employer must file the petition on your behalf, which includes submitting several forms and supporting documentation. After submitting the petition, you must attend an in-person interview at a US embassy or consulate, where a consular officer will review your application and possibly ask you some questions.
1. How long does the H1B visa application process take?
The time it takes to complete the H1B visa application process varies depending on the situation. It can take several weeks to receive approval or denial from USCIS, and the interview process can take additional time. In some cases, it can take up to six months to complete the entire application process.
2. How long can I stay in the US on an H1B visa?
Typically, an H1B visa is valid for up to three years and can be extended for an additional three years. After six years, you must depart the US for a year before applying for a new H1B visa.
3. Can I bring my spouse and children with me on an H1B visa?
Yes, you can bring your spouse and children with you on an H1B visa. They can apply for H4 visas, which allow them to live and attend school in the US but cannot work.
4. What happens if I lose my job while on an H1B visa?
If you lose your job while on an H1B visa, you have a grace period of up to 60 days to find a new job or leave the country. Your new employer must file a new petition on your behalf before the grace period ends. If you are unable to find a new job within the grace period, you must return to your home country.
5. Can I apply for permanent residency while on an H1B visa?
Yes, you can apply for permanent residency (a green card) while on an H1B visa. However, the process can be lengthy and may require your employer’s support.