Companies around the U.S. are often looking to hire people who have specialized knowledge or education. They may hire foreign workers to fill those positions when a qualified American worker isn’t available. For example, an engineering firm that is unable to fill an open position for a materials engineer may hire an individual from Brazil who has the qualifications. If you’re in such a situation, then you need to know about how to apply for the H-1B visa to start your new job.

Applying for an H-1B visa is complicated and you must follow the steps correctly to avoid delays or other issues. Although the employer handles a lot of the application process, you need to have an understanding of the steps and what’s required of you. Here’s a look at what you need to know about the process after being hired by a U.S. company.

The Application Process

To be eligible for an H-1B visa, you must meet certain requirements. At least two of the qualifications below must be met in order to apply for the H-1B visa:

  • Hold either a bachelor’s or master’s degree (can be the foreign equivalency) or have at least 12 years of specialized work experience to bypass the education requirement;
  • The job that you are hired for typically has the degree requirement;
  • Be for a job where the work requires the employee to hold a specialty occupation;
  • Have deep knowledge in the field;
  • Show that there is a lack of qualified US applicants for the position (employer must provide evidence).

Specialty occupations are considered by the USCIS as those that “the nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.” Engineering, medicine, health, law, and engineering are among those specialized fields that are included.

Find a Sponsor Employer

To obtain an H-1B visa, you must be sponsored by a U.S. employer. During the hiring process, make sure that the employer is willing to sponsor you. Usually, an employer states up front whether they will sponsor candidates or not. However, you can’t assume they will, so it is best to ask explicitly.

The filing fees involved in an H-1B application are mostly covered by the employer. These fees usually include the following:

  • $300 Base Filing Fee
  • $750 ACWIA fee (employers with 1-25 full-time employees) or $1500 (employers will 26 plus full-time employees)
  • $500 Fraud prevention and detection fee
  • $1,225 Premium processing fee, optional

Submit Necessary Forms

An employer who is willing to sponsor you can begin the application process once you are hired. First, they will submit a Labor Conditions Application to the Department of Labor (DOL). Information such as your pay, working conditions, and location are provided to the DOL.

The employer is also affirming that the wage offered for the position is equal to or greater than the wage for similar work found in the geographic area. They also attest that the working conditions are not harmful to workers in similar positions.

After the LCA has been approved, the employer can file Form I-129, which is the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. This is submitted to the USCIS. Information including the applicant’s resume, employment agreement, fees, education, letter of support, and other documents are submitted too.

It can take an average of 3 to 4 months for the petition to be processed, but the actual time can vary depending on the service center. For an additional cost, there is premium processing available.

Applicant Completes Process at U.S. Embassy

The final step after the petition is approved is to have your visa processed. Your visa can be processed at your home country’s US embassy or consulate. Generally, this will take 2 or 3 days but it will depend on the location.

Potential Application Timeline

Petitions for the fiscal year 2021 (beginning on October 1, 2020) have already started. March 1st is now the start of the registration period for each worker. Here’s what the timeline may look like if your employer has submitted their H-1B registration before March 20th of this year:

  • April 1 to June 15: Submit the LCA with the DOL. Gather and prepare the H-1B forms, support letter, and other documentation.
  • April 15 to June 25 – Submit the petition to the USCIS. It must be delivered before June 30, 2020.

Contact the Legal Professionals at Pride Immigration For More Information

The H-1B visa process is complex, particularly with the recent changes. Making a mistake can be detrimental to getting a visa approved. Working with an immigration lawyer can help you by providing in-depth information about the application process, what to expect, and guide you in the best direction. Schedule an appointment with our experts at Pride Immigration to learn more about how we can assist you through the process.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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