H1B Visa Program Overview
What is an H1B Visa ?
The H1B visa program is the primary method for employers to recruit & hire International professionals and International students to work in the USA. The H1B visa enables US employers to hire foreign professionals for a specified period of time. The H1B program allows workers in specialty occupations to work in the US for up to a total of six (6) years.
One of the things that makes the H1B so desirable is that, unlike many other nonimmigrant visa categories, it is a "dual intent" visa. This means that a visa will not be denied simply because a person has intentions to become a permanent resident. The assumption is that if for some reason the permanent residency petition is denied, the person would still have the intention to return home.
Aside from documenting that the position offered is in a specialty occupation and that the employee has the appropriate credentials for the job, the employer needs to verify that the H1B visa worker is being paid the prevailing wage for the work being performed and that employment of a foreign worker is not harming conditions for US workers.
H1B Visa Qualifying occupation categories are typically jobs in the fields of IT, Computing, Finance, Accounting, Banking, Marketing, Advertising, PR, Sales, Recruiting, Engineering (all types), Teaching, HealthCare/Medical, Legal, Lawyers, Networking, Telecoms, Business, Management, Scientific Research.
The length of time that a worker can have an H1B visa is usually an 'initial' period of up to three years. The initial H1B visa can then be extended one time for up to a combined total of six (6) years.
Other regulatory provisions permit;
(1) the employer to request a period of less than three years,
(2) the employee to be employed on a part-time basis
(3) the employee to work for more than one US Employer simultaneously.
The H1B worker's family may also be permitted to live in the US during the period that the H1B visa is in effect, but can not be a paid employee while on an H4 visa. An H1B holders Spouse and children (under the age of 21) can move to and live in teh USA with the H1B holder - but they can not work unless they obtain their own work visa.
During the term of the H1B visa the employee can also apply for permanent residency. This is called "Dual Intent", and is a privilege some other U.S. visas do not enjoy.
The H1B Cap - quota of H1B visas issued each year
The number of H1B visas issued each year is subject to a cap that is determined by US Congress. The current H1B cap is set at 65,000 plus an additional 20,000 for International students that graduate with an MBA or higher from a US University.
The H1B cap does NOT include or affect:
1) current H1B holders transfering their visa to a new employer / sponsor
2) 'new' applications for an H1B with: non profit organizations, Government Research organizations, and institution of higher education.
* H1B Transfers and cap-exempt positions are Unlimted and available all year round for applications.
Basic Required Documentation for H1B visa
An H1B Sponsorship job offer from a US Sponsor Company
High School Diploma (only required if no college level of education has been attained.)
College diplomas (Associate, Bachelor, Master, Ph.D)
College transcripts/academic records
Certificate/diploma of training courses
Evidence of license or professional membership (if applicable)
Employment verification in the form of retrospective references (these must correlate with information in CV/Resume)
Current CV/Resume describing in detail employment history including: name & address of employer, job title, month/year commenced employment & month/year concluded employment, type of business, duties performed, full/part time.
Identity page in passport plus any pages evidencing current or expired US Visas
Documents to get H4 VISA For the dependent of H1B VISA holder
Copy of your Spouse H1B visa
H1B approval notice - Copy
Letter from the current employer
Marriage certificate (If spouse)
Marriage album (If spouse)
As an immigrant, when you arrive in the U.S., an arrival/departure record card is issued and placed in your passport next to your visa. This is called an I-94 card that permits a foreigner to be in the U.S. (as opposed to visa that provides the right to travel in and out of the U.S. in a certain status, eg. H1B visa status). The U.S. immigration official at the U.S. port of entry will review the foreigners immigration documents (eg. H1B visa) and stamp the I-94 card with an expiry date consistent with the visa expiry. It should be noted that the immigration official has the power to limit a foreigners stay irrespective of the visa expiration. The I-94 card is removed when a foreigner departs the U.S.