How to Determine Whether You Qualify for an H1B Visa
Many individuals from around the world look at the United States as the ultimate destination to fulfill their American Dream. It is well-recognized that the United States provides a wide variety of different employment opportunities. The H1B Visa provides foreign nationals with the chance to obtain temporary employment in the United States. As a result, this is one of the most sought after visas for the United States. However, there are eligibility requirements and criteria that foreign nationals must abide by in order to apply for this visa. Therefore, in this article, I will address what an H1B visa is, the eligibility requirements for an H1B visa, how to apply for an H1B visa, and much more.
What is an H1B Visa
An H1B visa is defined as a temporary work permit for foreign nationals that specialize in specialty occupations. In other words, this visa allows employers to hire foreign workers for a short period of time. A specialty occupation is defined as work that includes theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge in one of the following fields of work:
In order for your specialized occupation to be recognized by a potential employer in the United States, you must have the appropriate educational qualifications. Therefore, in order to be eligible to apply for an H1B visa, you must have completed a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in one of the aforementioned fields of study. Additionally, if required, you will also need to provide a state licensure in order to practice in that specific field.
- Medicine & Health
- Physical Sciences
- Social Sciences
How to Qualify for an H1B Visa
Much like any other immigration application to enter the United States, there are specific criteria and qualifying requirements that applicants must abide by. In order to qualify for an H1B visa, you must:
- Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree or the equivalent
- Apply to work in a specialty occupation, such as any of the fields listed above
- Earn an income that is the wage or the prevailing wage for the intended occupation
- Have a relationship with the sponsoring employer who intends on hiring you
- Intend on working in a specialty job that relates to your field of study
- Obtain an H1B visa number prior to filing the petition, unless it is exempt
- Ensure the employer meets the Department of Labour requirements and must file a I-129 form with the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) for permission to hire you
How to Apply for an H1B Visa
In order to apply for an H1B Visa, there are several steps that must be taken prior to actually entering the United States and successfully start working. The first and most important consideration you should note is that you cannot file for an H1B visa for yourself. The prospect employer must file the application for you. Specifically, the first step in applying for an H1B visa entails the employer filing a petition to sponsor you into the United States. Additionally, the USCIS also has requirements that must be met by the prospect employer, such as providing an employment letter. The employment letter must also provide details about the intended position that will be filled by the foreign worker, the job duties of the intended position, the dates of employment, and information about the supervisor and co-workers of the employee.
The next step in the application process of the H1B visa is to determine and compare the actual wage and the prevailing wage. Keep in mind, the prevailing wage is determined by the State of Employment Security Agency by completing a form which asks for details surrounding the responsibilities and experience needed for the intended position. On the other hand, the actual wage is determined by comparing the wages of other employees in the same position with the same amount of experience. Consequently, the employer must pay the employee whichever wage is higher. It is important to note that this process takes approximately two months to determine.
Following, the American employer must file a Labour Certification Application (LCA). This specific application provides the USCIS with information of the sponsoring American employer. Upon the completion of this application, the American employer is essentially confirming the pay of the higher of the two wages for the employee and that the employment of the foreign worker will not affect any other employees. Additionally, this application will also ensure that there are no strikes for the intended position at the work place. The advantage of this application is that is also makes sure that the American employer is offering the same benefits to the foreign worker as the rest of the employees.
The last step of the H1B visa application process is filing the petition with the USCIS. This process may take a few months to process. During the time that the application is being processed, USCIS will provide the American employer with a receipt which includes a 9-digit reference number designated for that particular application and includes H1B visa processing times and general information about both the American employer and the foreign worker. Once this is received, a letter should be sent to the foreign worker with these details. The approval of the application usually happens within the time frame indicated on the receipt and will be sent to the American employer. The approval will also indicate the validity period of the H1B visa for the foreign worker.
How Long is an H1B Visa Valid For
The H1B visa is usually valid for a period of up to three years. However, the validity period may be extended, depending on your type of employment. Though, typically the validity period does not exceed six years. There are certain exceptions which can allow for a longer period than the six year. Specifically, exceptions that apply under sections 104(c) and 106(a) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21).
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It is essential that you have taken all of the aforementioned factors and information into consideration, if you intend on applying for an H1B visa to the United States. If you want to apply for an H1B visa, it is extremely important to note that these are difficult applications to pursue on your own. It is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help prior to submitting the application. Here, at Akrami & Associates, we work and have experience with many different immigration matters. We have helped many of our clients obtain H1B visas to temporary work in the United States. If you believe that you may be eligible, please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at our office at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advice.
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1. Know requirements
The occupations that qualify under this program are usually jobs in the field of Accounting, Finance, banking, IT, Legal, Sales, Teaching, Management, Scientific Research, Medical, Business, Engineering, Recruiting etc.
The requirements for H1B visa require the applicant to have one of the following:
The qualification rule for an H1B visa is that for every 1 years of college/university study 3 points will be granted and for every 1 year of work experience 1 point will be granted. 12 points in total are required to qualify for the H1B program.
- A bachelor’s degree or Master’s Degree
- Twelve years of work experience
- A mix of work experience and further education
There is a visa application fee of $190 which is non-refundable. Based on the country, applicants might have to pay a visa issuance fee if the visa is approved. However, Canadians do not have to pay a visa issuance fee for a H1B visa.
Before the interview it is important to gather all the required documents which include a valid passport, non-immigrant Visa Application, the application fee receipt, receipt number for the approved petition and the photo in case it does not upload online with the form. The passport for the applicant has to be valid for at least 6 months beyond the period of stay requested in the USA. It is also very essential to be honest on the application as any false information can lead to rejection.
4. Process of Application
In order to apply for the visa under this program, the prospective employer is required to first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition has to be approved for in order to apply for the work visa. After the petition is approved by the USCIS the worker can then apply for H1B visa.
In order to apply for the visa, complete an online visa application called Online Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. After filling the form you need to print a copy to take to the interview. You also need to upload a photo of yourself along with the online form. The photo has to meet the photograph requirements as prescribed on the website of US Department of State.
The next step is to schedule your interview. Anyone between the age of 14 and 79 usually have to attend an interview. The appointments for the interview are scheduled at the US embassy or consulate in the country where the application is being sent from. The wait times for the interview appointments depend on visa category, location and season.
A consular officer determines during the interview whether an individual should be granted a visa and if yes then which type. The onus is on the applicants to show they qualify to receive the visa.
If you require further information on H1B visa or any other immigration issue, feel free to contact us at Akrami & Associates and we can help you in your immigration matter.
Working in the US with Specialized Skills
Are you someone that wants to move up the standings and work for big companies in the United States? But do not know if you have the right credentials to enter? We are here to assist you and give you a little information to help you get rid of any confusions you might have. The H-1B Visa is a visa that you need in order to work for specific occupations and also if your employment requires a degree or high qualification to specialize in particular fields. In this article, we will discuss about the H-1B visa and what the requirements are in order to apply in the right category of visa.
What is H-1B Visa?
There are similar permits to the H-1B visa; one of the permits that is similar to this is the TN permit. H-1B is basically a non-immigrant visa that is only issued in the United States under something that would be called “Immigration and Nationality Act”. This permits U.S. worker to provisionally hire overseas employees in field occupations. If a foreign worker with the H-1B status resigns or is terminated due to whatever reason from the subsidizing employer, the employee must both apply for and must be approved a variation of status to additional non-immigrant status since they got laid off, they will find another employer or they can leave the U.S immediately.
The period of the stay for the H1-B is 3 years, but it may be extended to six years but it cannot be over six years. The worker will be held accountable for the rational charge of the return transference if the employer dismisses the employee before the end of accredited stay. The employer will not be responsible for the transportation if he/she voluntarily chooses to resign.
How to apply for H-1B Visa?
As a Canadian citizen you cannot not apply for an H-1B. Rather, your employer will apply for an H-1B visa on your behalf. The employer plays the key role in helping the employee get the job he wants and be a professional. At first, the employer will file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor. This establishes the prevailing wage, that helps determine the minimum salary that a Canadian employee must be paid. After an employer obtains a certified LCA, the employer completes a form known as a “Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker” to the USCIS. The petition with the certified LC as well as accompanying fees and documents are then submitted to the USCIS for the purposes of processing. The entire application process takes a couple of months.
H-1B and path to permanent residency:
The H-1B visa allows individual to process two applications at the same time. You can have H-1B visa and you can also apply for permanent residence which is considered a “dual intent”. This implies that the H-1B holder can have lawful movement aim while still be the holder of the H-1B visa. When a worker with the H-1B visa travels outside of the U.S. for any reasons such as vacations or to visit family, he or she must get their visa stamped on the passport unless they have already done so for re-entry in the U.S.
H1B Visa Accompanying family members
There are many candidates who do not know what decision to make when it comes to their family. We all have responsibilities and we want our loved ones to be with us as a family. The individuals who are applying for H-1B visa can have their family accompanied with them abroad while working. The Individuals with an H-1B visa may accompany their family members with them, for example, a spouse, and children under the age of 21 to the United States under something many refer to as an “H-4” visa class. Now, there are certain conditions that have to be met to be considered eligible for this category. There are basic and simple conditions, however, if they are not met, the family members cannot accompany the principle visa holder of the H-1B visa. The conditions and requirements are listed below:
- The “H-4” Visa holder may stay in the U.S., as along as the H-1B visa holder maintains a lawful status
- H-4 visa holder is permitted to go to school and apply for things such as, a driver’s license, and open a depository account in the U.S.
Requirements to be eligible for H-1B
There are number of requirements that have to be assessed before the visa could be granted by the officials, the requirements are listed below:
- Everyone must have employee/employer association with the requesting U.S. employer
- Job must moderate as a domain occupation
- One of the leading requirement of the H-1B visa is, that you must have a degree for the position
- Income of the occupation
In what way do I establish that I will be paid the suitable salary?
In order to get an applicable salary, the individual must submit a Labor Condition Application (LAC) for the position. If you are currently working for a company, some of the evidence that must be shown for an appropriate wage would be:
How to show if degree is related to the “specialty occupation?
In order to establish that the degree is related to the occupation you will need documented evidence and that must be included in your application. Documented letters from previous employers and the professionals would be sufficient enough to explain how the degree is related to the position you were given.
- most recent paystubs from your occupation.
- most recent “W2” which would show the wages that you have received.
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If you want H-1B visa and want to accompany any of your family members or if you just want to work in the United States alone as an employee and need assistance with your H-1B visa application, please do consider Akrami & Associates for all your legal needs. Our team of dedicated consultants and lawyers will take good care of you by presenting the best possible case for you and your loved ones. With Akrami and Associates there is always a way!!
L-1 Visa versus H-1B Visa
The United States offers many different types of temporary worker visas in order to assist employers in acquiring personnel. Some of the visas that fall within this category include L-1A, L-1B, TN, O-1, and OPT. Two of the most requested visas are the L-1 and H-1B.
The L-1 visa is used for Intra-company Transferees. An Intra-company Transferee is a foreign national who has been working for a non-U.S. company and is applying to be transferred to a U.S. company. This U.S. company is a branch, subsidiary, or joint venture partner of the non-U.S. company.
The H-1B visa is used for Temporary Workers in Specialty Occupations. This type of applicant must meet the educational and experience requirements of one of the specialty occupations listed on Form M-746 (Dictionary of Occupational Titles). U.S. employers can hire foreign workers that meet these specifications.
The L-1 and H-1B share some similarities, so it is easy to get confused about which one to pursue.
The major similarities between the L-1 and H-1B visa are:
Beyond these similarities, the L-1 and H-1B visas have quite a few differences. A potential applicant should assess these differences carefully and choose the visa that best applies to his or her situation.
- They are both temporary work visas.
- Both of them qualify for Premium Processing.
- U.S. businesses can expedite the processing of certain types of non-immigrant visas by paying a fee of $1,225 to the USCIS. This guarantees a 15 calendar day processing time for visa petitions and applications. The other advantage of premium processing is that companies who participate in it get dedicated phone and email access to inquire about their applications and check on their status.
- Dual intent is possible.
- Dual intent is an immigration term which describes an applicant who has filed for both temporary and permanent visa status simultaneously. Due to this contradiction, applicants for L-1 and H-1B visas are not required to prove strong ties to their home country. It is largely because of this allowance of dual intent that the L-1 and H-1B visa categories are so popular, as it allows applicants to work temporarily in the U.S. while awaiting a decision on their permanent residence application (Green Card).
Differences Between L-1 and H-1B Visas
The U.S. company filing the petition for foreign workers must be multinational or have a relationship with a foreign company. The U.S. company applying could be the parent or subsidiary of a foreign company, or possibly an affiliate or branch. The applicant for an L-1 visa must have a minimum of 1 year work experience in a preceding 3 year period as a manager, executive, or have specialized knowledge.
Any U.S. employer can file a petition for a foreign worker. They must show that they are hiring a worker in one of the listed Specialty Occupations for an H-1B visa. Foreign workers must meet certain educational and experiential requirements in order to qualify under one of the chosen occupations.
There are no wage requirements specified for the L-1 visa. The lack of restrictions is due to the fact that the applicant is being transferred from a foreign company. Despite this, drastically lower wages can still be an issue. Therefore, wages are still expected to be reasonable.
Wage requirements are carefully regulated for the H-1B visa. The U.S. Department of Labor maintains a prevailing wage database for each of the listed Specialty Occupations. If the U.S. employer cannot offer the minimum prevailing wage, the H-1B visa petition will be rejected.
Currently, the L-1 Visa has no application caps in place.
There is annual application cap enforced on H-1B visas. The fiscal year begins on April 1 and the cap is set at 65,000. In recent years, this application cap has been met very quickly. For example, in the fiscal year for 2015, over 172,500 applications were received.
Exemptions to the cap are given to H-1B applicants employed by:
- A non-profit research organization
- A government research organization
- An institution of higher education
Due to the nature of the L-1 Visa, the payroll requirements are flexible. It is possible for an Intra-company Transferee to still be on a foreign payroll and only receive an allowance from the U.S. company.
In general, foreign workers on an H-1B visa are working directly for their U.S. employer. Therefore, the employer must have the H-1B visa holders on a payroll.
An L-1A visa has a maximum validity of up to 7 years, while an L-1B visa has a maximum validity of up to 5 years. It should also be noted that L-1 visa applicants who are transferring from an H visa must include that time. This means that if you were on an H-1B visa for 2 years and transferred over to an L-1A visa, you would only have 5 years left until the new L-1A visa expired.
The maximum duration of an H-1B visa is 6 years. If you transfer from an L visa to an H-1B visa, that previous time counts towards the maximum duration.
It is also possible to apply for an extension of an H-1B visa in some cases. This extension could grant the visa holder another 3 years, but must be applied for at least a year before the current H-1B visa expires.
Minimum Education Requirements
A degree is not a requirement for this type of visa. Naturally, many Intra-company Transferees do have degrees, but they do not have to be related to any predetermined specialized field.
There are strict minimum education requirements dictated by foreign workers under an H-1B visa. The occupation that the foreign worker will be performing must require at least a bachelor’s degree or higher. Furthermore, the job on offer must meet an industry standard for degree requirements, meaning that to do the duties of the job, the foreign worker must have specialized training or knowledge.
U.S. companies can file for a blanket petition which means that multiple non-immigrant workers can be hired under one petition. In order to be eligible to file a blanket petition, the U.S. company should meet one of the following conditions:
- Employer must have received a minimum of 10 L-1 visa approvals during the previous year
- Employer has U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with a combined revenue of $25 million or more
- Company has a minimum of 1,000 employees in the U.S.
Currently, the H-1B visa does not allow the filing of blanket petitions. Only individual petitions are possible.
Family Members of Applicant Seeking Employment
One of the key advantages of the L-1 visa is that immediate family members of an L-1 visa holder may seek employment in the U.S. Immediate family would be defined as a spouse or unmarried minors dependent on the L-1 visa holder. These family members can receive an L2 visa which allows them to work legally in the U.S.
While immediate family members of an H-1B visa holder are allowed to live in the U.S. for the duration of the visa, they are not allowed to be paid employees. If they wish to work, they must apply for and obtain their own separate work visa.
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As you can see, the L-1 visa and H-1B visa have quite a few differences. What visa is right for you largely depends on your background. You might want to consider these questions when considering a temporary worker application for U.S. non-immigrant status:
If you have more questions or are unsure how to proceed with your U.S. temporary work visa, our firm is here to help. Our team of U.S. immigration lawyers and consultants has the knowledge and skills necessary to set you on the right path. Let us help to assess which non-immigrant visa works best for you and to put together the most professional application possible.
- Does my education background meet the requirements of a Specialty Occupation?
- Do I have the necessary work experience?
- Will my immediate family accompany me to the U.S.?
- Will my accompanying immediate family need to work?
- How long do I want to stay in the U.S.?
- Does my U.S. employer meet the qualifications for the type of visa I wish to apply for?