The US H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation requires a specialised knowledge and a bachelor's degree or equivalent work experience in areas such as information technology (IT), finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc.
How does an H1B visa work?
The H1B visa is a work visa requiring the applicant to be sponsored by a US employer to apply. Therefore, someone who wishes to enter the US through an H1B visa needs to gain employment from a US employer who is willing to sponsor you into the US.
Benefits under H1B visa
A successful H1B application, visa stamp, and work permit allows skilled individuals to:
· Obtain a Social Security number
· Apply for a state ID or driver's licence
· Open a bank account
· Buy or rent a car
· Rent or own property
How long is an H1B visa good for?
A worker with an H-1B visa can remain in the US for up to six years. It is initially for three years but can be extended for additional three years.
How to apply for an H1B visa?
Here's a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Get a digital photo and application form
After completing the application, you will receive a confirmation with a 10-digit barcode. Take a printout of this page. This will be needed for setting up visa interview appointments.
Step 3: Pay H1B application fee
Step 4: Take appointment for H1B visa interview
After you pay the fees, you will have to schedule 2 appointments as part of the H1B visa process. The two-part appointment process consists of an appointment with one of the five Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to give Biometrics information that includes fingerprinting and photograph, and second an appointment with the Consulate or Embassy for a personal visa interview.
Step 5: US visa finger-printing
After taking appointment with the consulate or embassy for personal interview, schedule the fingerprinting appointment at least a day or two before the interview at the consulate.
Step 6: Go for visa interview at the US consulate
How does the H1B visa quota system work?
Each October 1, the USCIS makes available a certain number of H-1B visas for the following 12 months.
The Quota for financial year 2020 is 65,000. There is also a quota of 20,000 for US master’s degree holders, effectively making the quota 85,000.
The earliest you can apply for the H-1B Visa is 6 months before the requested start date. For example, you may file on 4/1/2019 for a 10/1/2019 start date.
Note that H-1B visa holders are not subject to the quota when applying for a transfer to another company or an extension with the same company.
H1B visa FAQs
1. Can H1B visa holders apply for Green card?
Yes. The H1B visa is a dual-intent visa, which means that those who hold it are eligible for permanent residency by applying for a green card. There are difficulties with applying for the green card once your H1B visa has expired.
What is a Green Card?
A Green Card is a permit that allows a non-citizen to permanently live and work in the US.
Individuals from other countries who enter, live and work in the US for several years and eventually obtain a Green Card are considered permanent residents. Unlike the H-1B, a Green Card permit does not require renewal.
Green Card holders may live and work in the US for as long as they please. They can freely travel in and out of the country and don’t need to be sponsored by an employer to maintain their legal permanent residence.
2. What is the minimum H1B salary?
The Donald Trump administration in the US is considering a proposal to require companies to pay foreign-born scientists and engineers in H-1B status an annual minimum wage of $150,000 to $250,000 or more, depending on the job title and location. However, there is no such rule as yet.
3. What is the visa application fee?
The visa application processing fee is $190. It is non-refundable.
4. Can I marry in the US while there on H1B visa?
Marriage with a US citizen or US permanent resident allows an H1B holder to apply for immigrant status by seeking a 'green card through family'. While you have H1B eligible employment in the US, you may remain in the country with your spouse during the application process for a green card.
Fiance visa: As an H1B visa holder, your fiance(e) may be able to use the B2 visa for the purpose of entering the US to marry. However, proof will be required by the issuing embassy or consulate and immigration officials that your fiance(e) intends to return home after the marriage.
5. For how long can HIB visa holder stay without job?
H1B visa holders can stay in the US for 60 days if they lose their H1B job.
6. I would like to work in the US. Can I apply for the H-1B visa by myself without an employer?
No. You must have a legitimate job offer from a US company or organization.
7. I have an Associates (2 year) Degree and two-year work experience as an Analyst. Do I qualify for the H1B visa?
No. You must have at least a US Bachelor (4-year) degree or its equivalent.
Three years of work experience is equivalent to one year of University. So, if you have six years of work experience and two years of college, you could qualify.
The Degree and work experience should be directly relevant to your job title.
8. Do H1B visa holders have to pay taxes?
An H1B visa holder is subject to withholding of Social Security (FICA) tax as well as federal and state income taxes. H1B visa holders are taxed as “resident aliens”, on their worldwide income and may claim deductions for family members.