Last Updated: June 05, 2022
The H-1B visa is issued by the US government to foreign nationals who wish to work in a specialty occupation. It is a non-immigrant visa and hence is issued with an expiry date before which the candidate will have to renew the same if they wish to continue their stay in the country. Candidates will be required to have both theoretical and practical knowledge in a specialized field and they will also be required to have a degree in their field to be employed in the country.
To apply for the visa, one will require a job offer that has been issued by a US employer. It will also be necessary for them to prove that they have an employee-employer relationship with the employer who has issued the job offer.
Validity of an H-1B Visa
The validity of an H-1B visa is generally 3 years when it is for specialty occupations. This can be extended for a duration of 3 more years if the employer of the candidate submits another Form I-129 along with a filing fee. The validity of the visa can end within the initial 3-year period if the employer terminates the employment contract due to any reason. But in such situations, the employer will be responsible for managing the return expenses of the candidate.
Who Needs to Apply for the H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa is issued to foreign nationals who wish to do temporary work in the US for a specialty occupation. The visa will only be provided to those who have a job offer from the country and if their employer is petitioning for their H-1B visa from within the country. Candidates can either have a full-time or part-time job in the specialty field as long as they have a minimum salary of $60,000 per year.
A foreign national will not be able to apply for an H-1B visa on their own unless they have been petitioned by their employer. The employer, in such cases, will have to attest that the employment they are providing will not affect the working conditions of US workers that are similarly employed. The employer will also have to inform their current employees officially about their intention of hiring a foreign national under an H-1B visa.
Cost of H-1B Visa
The cost of an H-1-B visa is to be paid mostly by the employer who has provided the job offer to the candidate. They will have to pay the visa filing fee, registration fee, public law 114-113 fee, USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee/ACWIA Education and Training Fee, etc. on behalf of the candidate while petitioning to hire them to their company.
The fee that the employee will have to pay will only be the basic fee required at the local US embassy. If the candidate wishes to bring their dependents to the country along with them, they will be required to pay the entire amount required for the H4 visa.
Candidates that Require H-1B Visa
The H-1B visa is issued to people who are nationals of particular countries. The processing of the H-1B visa applications in the country is generally based on the nationality of the candidate who has applied which will also include the number of visas that are allotted to each nationality every year. The cap on the visa will be based on the number of applications received. Since over 85,000 visa applications are received every year for the H-1B visa, out of which only 65,000 visa applications are approved.
The countries that H-1B visa holders mostly come from include-
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
What is the H-1B Visa Cap?
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that is provided to foreign nationals who wish to take up specialized professions in the country with adequate educational qualifications for the job. In the year 1900, Congress set a cap on this visa which allows only 65,000 visa approvals every year. The visa is only provided to people with advanced degrees in the fields of architecture, mathematics, physical sciences, medicine & health, education, business, law, arts, theology, engineering, and social sciences.
There are different types of H-1B caps including the regular cap and US Master’s cap.
H-1B Regular Cap
The regular cap for H-1B visas is the limit of visas that can be issued by the USCIS in a fiscal year. People who apply under this cap will have to meet all the H-1B visa requirements. The educational requirements that fall under this cap are dependent on the area of specialization of the candidate and the work experience they have. Having a Master’s degree is not an essential requirement to receive a visa under this cap. If a candidate has a bachelor’s degree or if they have specialized training in their field and they excel in it, they will automatically be eligible for the visa.
Under this category, those without a bachelor’s degree will be able to replace their lack of educational experience with their years of work experience in the same field. As a rule, 1 year of education is considered equal to 3 years of work experience in the field.
Under the regular cap, USCIS is allowed to issue 65,000 H-1B visas every fiscal year. Out of these visas, 6,800 visas are set aside for the US-Chile and US-Singapore free trade agreements (H-1B1 program). The visas in this quota will be part of the next fiscal year’s H-1B cap if they remain unused.
US Master’s Cap/Exemption from H-1B Cap
According to the information that one has provided in the visa application, candidates can get exempted from the H-1B cap. The candidates will still be required to have an advanced degree in their area of specialization and they will require a job offer from the country if they wish to apply for the visa. But a few other conditions will allow them to get the visa without having to consider the visa cap for the year. These conditions are-
- Candidate should have a master’s degree from a US-based institution.
- The degree should also be from a nationally-recognized agency.
- Private degrees from the country will not be considered eligible. The degree should be from a public or non-profit institution.
20,000 visas are issued as part of this advanced degree quota. Though there were negotiations to make this quota increase to 110,000, the cap for 2023 remains to be at 20,000.
Cap when Renewing/Extending H-1B
There is no cap when renewing or extending the existing H-1B visa because the visa holder has already made the cap when they were first issued the visa.
Application Open Days for H-1B Cap
Since there are only a limited number of seats available in the regular cap of H-1B visa, the cap will be open only until the specified number has reached. Candidates will be able to file for the H-1B petition during the initial registration period that lasts for 14 days. This will vary from year to year based on the number of applications received. The number of days for which the cap was open in the years between 2015 and 2023 are as follows-
|2016||5 Days |
|2017||5 Days |
|2018||5 Days |
|2019||5 Days |
|2020||5 Days |
H-1B Petition Submitting Timeline
Every year, there is a window during which one will be able to submit applications for the H-1B visa cap. There will be an initial registration period provided during March or April. If the candidate wishes to avail of the available H-1B visa from the new fiscal year in October, they will have to apply during the initial registration. The period during which one could apply for the H-1B visa cap in FY 2023 is between March 19 to March 29, 2022. The selection information will be made available between April 1 to June 30, 2022.
Steps to Apply for H-1B Visa
The steps to apply for the H-1B visa are as follows-
- Step 1- Get a Job Offer from a US-based employer- Candidates who wish to get an H-1B visa will initially have to get a job offer from a US-based employer. The employer will require a Labor Condition Application certification.
- Step 2- Employer Should Submit a Form I-129- Once the candidate has accepted the job offer, the employer will have to file the I-129 form which is called the non-immigrant worker petition. They will have to submit all necessary documents along with the petition.
- Step 3- Employee can Apply for Visa- Once the petition has been approved, candidates will be able to submit the DS-160 form. They will be able to submit this form through the Online non-immigrant visa application system.
- Step 4- Attend Interview at Local US Embassy- Upon being shortlisted from the DS-160 form submission list, selected candidates will be called for an interview. They will be able to attend the interview at their local US embassy.
Documents Required to Apply for H-1B Visa
The documents required by the candidate to apply for an H-1B visa include-
- Valid Passport
- Updated Resume
- Job Offer Letter
- Proof of University Degree Completion
- Educational Transcripts
- Evidence of Previous Employment in this field
Documents Required while Stamping Visa
Once the visa application that the candidate has submitted has been approved and the candidate has been called for the interview, they will have to carry a specific set of documents with them. Candidates will have to apply separately for the visa stamping interview to get their slots. The documents that one has to carry for the visa stamping interview are as follows-
- Bar code confirmation of DS 160 form
- Interview Appointment Letter for Visa Stamping
- H-1B Visa Approval Notice/Form I-797
- Form I-129 submitted earlier by Employer
- H-1B Visa Application Letter as given by Employer
- LCA Certification of Employer
- Employment Verification Letter
- Educational Documents, as additional supplementary documents
Steps for Extending Stay with H-1B Visa
The validity of an H-1B visa is generally for 3 years after which the visa holders will be able to extend the validity for 3 more years. People generally wish to extend this visa to find better employment or so they can eventually get a green card to stay in the country. Extending the visa will also allow foreign nationals to continue working and staying in the country. The process for applying for the renewal is similar to the initial application one has to make for the visa.
Employer should File Form I-129
- The employer under whom the candidate is working will have to file the form I-129 again if they wish to extend the H-1B visa of the candidate. They will have to submit other necessary documents along with this form.
Once the form I-129 has been filed, the candidate will get a 240-day extension to their current H-1B visa by default since the visa extension procedure can take a while. There are three ways of getting an H-1B extension. These are-
- 1-year Extension
- 3-year Extension
- Recapturing Time Abroad
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Specialty Occupation? Can one get an H-1B visa without a Specialty Occupation?
A specialty occupation is a job that requires the applicant to have a specialized bachelor’s level or higher degree in a subject. The occupation will have to require the qualification of the candidate and cannot be outside the scope of the qualification that the candidate has.
Can an H-1B visa holder bring a dependent to the country?
H-1B visa holders will be able to bring a dependent to the country by issuing an H4 visa along with the H-1B visa application form. Dependents can either be the spouse of the visa holder or the unmarried child of the candidate who is below 21 years old.
Can a foreign national apply for an H-1B visa?
No. Only US-based employers will be able to apply for an H-1B visa. They will have to separately apply for an LCA and submit an H-1B petition including the offer letter they have provided to the candidate. Most of the fee involved for the H-1B visa has to be paid by the employer.
What is the general processing time for the H-1B visa?
Employers will be able to process an LCA within 7 days while the H-1B petition is generally processed within 3 to 6 months. This duration can take longer if there are discrepancies in the application that has been submitted.