What is H-1B Visa: Eligibility Requirements, Visa Process, and Cost
Every year, millions of expatriates visit the United States to pursue lucrative career opportunities. To cater to this segment, there are various U.S. work visa categories that permit foreign nationals to live and work in the country, either permanently or temporarily. The H-1B visa is one such visa that authorizes U.S. employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers for specialized job positions.
The visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that requires the individual to have highly specialized knowledge in a specific specialty, a bachelor’s degree or higher, and practical & theoretical application. In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know before applying for a visa.
The visa classification is for individuals who want to work in any specialty occupation or have exceptional abilities and merit related to a Department of Defense development project or cooperative research. Foreign nationals who want to work as a fashion model of specialized ability or merit. To be eligible for this temporary U.S. work visa, it is important to meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You must possess an advanced academic degree, such as a 4-year bachelor’s degree or equivalent, or a master’s or doctoral degree required by the specialty occupation
- You must hold advanced vocational skills or training in the specified field
- You must possess an unrestricted certification, registration, or state license authorizing you to lawfully provide services in the specialty occupation and remain engaged in it with the intent of employment
- You must have a valid job offer from a lawful U.S. employer for any job position that requires specialized knowledge, skills, and experience
- The U.S. employer must also provide valid evidence stating that there is a dearth of highly qualified and skilled U.S. workers for the job position
- You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for an H-1B visa
Discussed here are the key steps to apply for an H-1B non-immigrant work visa:
- Check the eligibility requirements and make sure you qualify for this visa classification.
- Find a petitioner (lawful U.S. employer) by applying for a job position in a specialty occupation.
- The U.S. employer will need to file a petition on your behalf. For this, it is mandatory to submit a Labor Condition Application to the Department of Labor. The objective is to ensure that such job offerings in the specialty occupation will not affect other U.S. employees and that the employer will pay you a similar wage as other qualified employees working under the same working conditions in the same geographic area.
- Once the DOL certifies the LCA submitted by the U.S. employer, the latter will require completing Form I-129. It is the petition for a Non-immigrant Worker. After completing the petition, your employer needs to submit the I-129, the LCA, additional documents, and a fee to the USCIS. Additional documentation may include proof of education, professional membership documents or training certificates, your resume, a letter of support, and a confirmation employment letter.
- If the petition gets approved, you will have two options based on whether or not you are already living in the United States at the time of filing for the H-1B visa. If you are within the country on another visa category, you will need to wait until the specialty occupation work visa status gets active. It is only after that you can start working.
- If you are residing outside the country, you will need to complete Form DS-160. You are also required to pay an application fee, after which you can schedule an interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy near you. During the interview, you will need to submit the following documents:
- A valid passport
- A copy of your I-129 petition and I-797 approval
- A printout of your completed form DS-160
- A passport-sized photo
- Receipts that prove you have paid all application fees
The cost of registering for the lottery is $10. Once you get selected in the H-1B lottery, the employer will need to pay $460 for filing Form I-129. In addition to this, there are other fees that your employer or you need to pay during the visa process.
Understanding the nitty-gritty of an H-1B visa can be complex. Hiring professional immigration visa services can help you understand whether you qualify for the visa and how to successfully complete the process.
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