Navigating H1B Visa Eligibility and Application Process

6 months ago

Navigating H1B Visa Eligibility and Application Process

An H-1B Visa is a special kind of visa that lets American employers temporarily hire foreign professionals to do specific jobs. It's valid for three years and can be extended for another three.

 

Who Can Get an H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is for people who want to work temporarily in certain specialized jobs. To get this visa, you need to meet one of these three requirements:

  • You have a bachelor's degree or higher in the job field from a recognized college or university.
  • You've worked in the same field for 12 years, and your work has been increasingly challenging and responsible.
  • You have a mix of education and related professional experience in the field. Typically, three years of specialized work experience equals one year of college education.

For example, if you have a three-year associate degree, you should also have at least three years of relevant work experience to qualify for the H1B Visa.

The USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and the Department of Labor use a point system to check if you meet the H1B Visa requirements. To qualify, you need at least 12 points:

  • One year of college education equals 3 points.
  • One year of professional work experience equals 1 point.
  • If your degree is from a foreign country, an agency must confirm it's equal to a four-year bachelor's degree from a recognized U.S. college or university.

Additionally, if your job needs a professional license or credentials (like a doctor, dentist, CPA, attorney, or registered nurse), you must already have those qualifications or get a waiver before applying for the H1B visa.

 

  • H-1B Jobs Must Meet One of these Criteria

 

  • Normally, a bachelor's degree or higher is the minimum requirement for the job.
  • The degree requirement is standard in the industry, or the job is so specialized that only someone with a degree can do it.
  • The employer typically asks for a degree for the position.
  • The job's duties are so unique and complex that they usually need someone with a bachelor's degree or higher.

If the USCIS officer finds that a job doesn't need a bachelor's degree because people without degrees usually do it, they'll ask the employer for more information in a "Request for Evidence" letter. If you meet the H1B Visa requirements, you can search our Visa Sponsor Database and contact the sponsors directly! If you don't qualify for an H1B Visa, consider looking into other work visa programs. You might be eligible for something like the H2B visa.

 

H1B Visa Application

To apply for an H1B visa, U.S. employers need to submit a request called Form I-129, Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker. They can start this process six months before the intended visa start date. For example, if the fiscal year begins on October 1, 2020, employers can start applying as early as April 1, 2024, for the fiscal year 2025 quota. However, the foreign professional (beneficiary) can only commence working on October 1st, 2024.

If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives more petitions than the quota allows within the first five business days, they will use a computer-generated lottery system to randomly select the required number of petitions. Any petitions not selected and those received after the quota is met will be rejected.

 

  • H1B Visa Costs

 

  • Base Fee: $325
  • USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee: $500
  • ACWIA Education and Training Fee: $750 (for employers with less than 25 employees) and $1,500 (for employers with 25 or more employees)
  • Public Law 114-113 Fee: $4,000 (applies only to employers with more than 50 employees in the U.S. and with over 50% of those employees on H-1B or L status)
  • Premium Processing Fee (Optional): $1,225
  • P.L. 111-230 Fee: $2,000

The fees for H1B visa application include a standard filing fee of $320 (Form I-129), an Anti-Fraud Fee of $500, an ACWIA (training) fee of $1,500, an optional premium processing fee of $1,000, and a new Public Law 114-113 fee of $4,000 for petitioners employing 50 or more employees with over 50% of them in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status. Ensure that checks are payable to the Department of Homeland Security, dated within the last six months, and contain the correct amount and signature. USCIS prefers separate checks for each fee and will reject petitions submitted with incorrect filing fees.

The ACWIA (Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act) fee supports the training of American workers. Employers with 25 or fewer employees only need to pay half of this fee ($750).

Certain organizations are exempt from the ACWIA fee, including primary or secondary educational institutions, higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations affiliated with higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations engaged in curriculum-related clinical training of students registered at higher education institutions, nonprofit research organizations, and governmental research organizations.

In August 2010, the Border Security bill increased the H1B Visa Filing Fee and Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee by $2,000 for employers with 50 or more employees in the United States and over 50% of their employees holding H1B Visa or L1 Visa. This had a significant impact on Indian IT consulting companies. However, starting from October 1, 2015, U.S. employers were no longer required to pay the additional filing fee of either $2,000 (H-1B) or $2,250 (L-1) as mandated by Public Law 111-230.

Nevertheless, on December 19, 2015, President Obama signed the Omnibus spending bill into law. This bill introduced a new fee requirement for companies with at least 50 employees, where 50 percent of their workforce held H-1B or L-1 visas. They were now obligated to pay an additional fee of $4,000 for H-1B visas and $4,500 for L-1 visas, known as the Public Law 114-113 fee.

 

  • H-1B Application Process

 

  • The employer sends a Labor Certification Application to the Department of Labor.
  • The employer submits Form I-129 to USCIS. Depending on where the H-1B worker will be, this form should be sent to either the California Service Center or the Vermont Service Center.
  • People who want to work in the U.S. but are currently outside the country apply for a visa and/or admission.

 

  • Premium Processing Service

H-1B petitioners have the option to expedite their petition processing by using Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, which ensures processing within 15 calendar days. To request premium processing, Form I-907, along with the premium processing fee of $1,225, must be submitted. 

Please note that this fee is in addition to the required base filing fee and other applicable fees, and it cannot be waived. You can file Form I-907 and pay the premium processing fee simultaneously with Form I-129 or at any time while Form I-129 is still pending.

 

U.S. Worker Protection

The U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for making sure that foreign workers don't take away jobs or make things worse for American workers by lowering wages or work conditions.

For every H-1B request given to the USCIS, they also need to submit something called a Labor Condition Application (LCA) that the Department of Labor (DOL) must approve. The LCA is made to make sure that the pay offered to the foreign worker is at least as much as what other workers in that area get paid. The LCA also has a part where the employer promises not to use it to bring in foreign workers when there's a strike or when they want to replace American workers.

If there are problems with an H-1B job, people should tell the local Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division office that's in charge of where the employer is. They should use Form WH-4 to make the complaint.

If the employer didn't do what they promised or didn't pay the right amount, the complaint should go to the Wage and Hour Division. But if the employer lied or did something wrong in the application (like saying the company exists when it doesn't, or having someone who's not really from the company sign it), the complaint goes to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) through the Wage and Hour Division. The OIG usually works with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to check it out.

 

Common Denial Reasons

Here are the four most common reasons why H-1B Visa requests get denied:

  • The employer doesn't seem like a real, well-established U.S. company that can hire and pay an H-1B worker. To prove this, the employer has to show documents like a tax ID number, tax records, or financial statements. Things like website printouts, brochures, photos of the company's place, and any licenses or stock certificates can also help.
  • The employer doesn't prove that there's an employer-employee relationship. This relationship has to keep going for the whole time the H-1B is valid. You can learn more about the employer-employee relationship here.
  • The foreign worker doesn't have the right education or experience. Most H-1B jobs need at least a bachelor's degree or something equal to it to get in. Many jobs also need other things like past training and work experience. Some professional jobs might also need state-issued licenses and professional degrees. You can learn more about H-1B requirements here.
  • The job being offered doesn't need "specialized knowledge." The H-1B visa is supposed to be for foreign workers in "specialty occupations," which need a lot of special knowledge in a certain field. You can learn more about H-1B jobs here.

Last 5 Years H-1B Salary Data

h1bInfo.org is an independent website that displays public disclosure data in a user-friendly format. We have analyzed 10 years of H1B data from USCIS and the US Department of Labor, covering more than 6 million records from FY 2014 to FY 2023. However, for the latest and most accurate data, it's best to check the official sources directly. All content on H1BInfo is copyrighted and all rights are reserved from 2022 to 2023.

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