The U.S. H-1B Nonimmigrant visa
News & Updates
In 2019, About 200,000 nonimmigrant workers are expected to apply for the so called nonimmigrant H-1B visa, which allows recipients to work and live in the United States. In the last year, the government has made significant changes to how H-1B visa is processed, who qualifies for the visa and who can hire H-1B workers. Therefore, it is important that applicants stay up to date on these developments. In this section, our H1B Visa Lawyer in New York will cover everything you need to know about H-1B the visa
What is H-1B Visa?
The U.S. H-1B Non-immigrant visa allows companies in the United States to hire non-American workers for up to six years. For this reason, this is the most common type of work visas, which gives employees the right to work and live in the United States. Employers file about 200,000 petitions annually.
The H1B visa is designed for professionals and highly skilled individuals. Typically, an ideal candidate would have a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, and/or work experience. Moreover, candidate with work experience and specialized training can be eligible for H-1B visas.
H-1B by the Numbers
The Government typically accepts H1B visa applications once a year, in April. At the same time, it grants only 85,000 visas from about 200,000 applicants each year. Additionally, about 20,000 of these visas go to candidates with U.S. advanced degrees, such as master’s degree or hire. Also, out of 85,000, the government designates about 6, 800 visas for Chilean and Singapore applicants according to a free trade agreement.
Finally, there is an exception to the cap for certain educational, research and non-profit organizations. In other words, such institutions may hire H-1b candidates without having to worry about the cap. Even more, these institutions can hire and apply for H-1B workers year long.
Sponsoring an H-1B employee can be costly for an employer, particularly large companies. For example, employers spend between 4 to 10 thousand dollars for one application. This amount includes the preparation of documents and fees. As a rule, for registration of a petition, American companies resort to the services of law firms. Thus, the company is better be interested in the candidate, because the process costs a lot of time and money.
A U.S. company that wants to hire a potential H-1B employee must petition a candidate by submitting the Form I-129 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. When USCIS approves the visa, it will indicate the name of the American company for which the immigrant will work. Therefore, H-1b employees can work only for the company that applied for the H-1B. But, H-1B employees can change employers. In order to do so, they must find a new employer to sponsor the visa within 60 days from termination of previous employment. Unfortunately, the employee must leave the United States if a new employer is not found within 60 days.
Initially, applicants obtain the visa for up to three years. Thereafter, the government will extend it for another 3 years upon request. Thus, the maximum possible duration of a visa is 6 years.
Crucially, visa holders may bring their spouses and children under the age of 21 to live in the United States. Such immediate relatives receive H-4 visas. Thankfully, H-4 allows them to attend school and college, get a driver’s license and be able to receive other benefits. Unfortunately, H-4 visa holders are not allowed to work in the United States unless certain exceptions apply.
The H-1B candidate must obtain the following documents among others:
- Passport for trips abroad, valid for at least six months after the expiration of the work visa;
- Certificates of professional education (Diploma);
- Letters of recommendation from former employers or clients;
- Invitation letter from an American company;
- Certificate of marriage (if any);
- Child’s birth certificate, marriage registration (if any);
- Certificate from current or previous employer with confirmation of position, total length of service in the company and income;
- License to carry out professional activities (concerns licensed occupations, for example, doctor, lawyer, realtor);
- Additional supporting documents, if any.
Importantly, applicant must accompany all documents in foreign languages with a translated copy.