H-1B visa: 'Your employer must do all the paperwork'
The H-1B visa is considered the most desired visa, worldwide. Yet with a limit of 65,000 per year, the United States government is often forced to choose between equally worthy, qualified candidates.
So how can you best align yourself to secure an H-1B visa? What are the inside tips and information you need?
How can you start a job search that will end in an H-1B visa and employment in America?
Dr Arun Vakil, US visa and immigration specialist, joined us for a rediff.com expert chat on December 5th to discuss these issues and more.
For those of you who missed the chat, here's part one of the transcript:
Arun Vakil says, Greetings to all aspirants of H-1B visa to the US. I call it "Happiness No. 1 for Bhartiyas" (Indians), who are eligible and seek temporary employment in America. Out of 65,000 annual quotas available for this category, 6,800 are given to Singapore and Chile under agreement with the US. This means really speaking, 58,200 visas are available for rest of the world and nearly half of this are taken by Indian IT professionals since last 5 years or more. A total of 43,167 H1-B visas were issued to Indians in the US fiscal year 2006 which ended on September 30, 2006. US Government introduced another 20,000 H-1B visas for students graduating from the US universities annually since last couple of years and this too has about half filled with Indians. Indian IT professionals are on roll and those who fit into "Specialty Occupation" as defined by law, can rock in America. The quota is offered according to US fiscal year October 1 to September 30. This means that 2009 quota will be distributed effective October 1, 2008
santoshmamdyal asked, hi This is santosh mamdyal interestedin H1B visa
Arun Vakil answers, First, find a job. The employer actually needs to do the paperwork. If you are the employer, hire an attorney. The steps to getting an H-1B are as follows:
1. The employer requests a prevailing wage determination. The official way is to use your state's employment agency. For instance, in California, this would be EDD. You can also use other published wage surveys, but could be fined if DOL later finds that the wage was too low.
2. The employer applies for a Labor Condition Attestation (also known as LCA). If you apply for it on the Department of Labor Web site , you will usually get an approval in a matter of minutes. You can also apply by mail, but this will take several weeks - why wait. The LCA also has the requirement that it must be posted publicly, or filed with a collective bargaining organization.
3. You collect your diploma and transcript. If it is not a US diploma, you need to get a credential evaluation. If it is not in English, it needs to be translated. It is permitted for you to do both yourself, but of course is generally preferable to use an credential evaluator and translator.
4. The employer fills out form I-129 (the petitions) and files it with USCIS. If you are in the US (for instance as a student), this must happen before your previous status expires. One of the questions asked on that form is for a US consulate abroad. Be sure to specify one that actually is authorized to issue non-immigrant visas. In most countries, only one or two consulates do. You may also consider filing form I-907 along with the I-129. This form requests premium processing and guarantees a response from USCIS within fifteen days. Don't forget to also apply for a change of status to H-4 for family members (form I-539)! Also remember never to include original documents with the I-129! The only exception is the original LCA; you must include this as original. Make sure you keep copies of everything you send to USCIS, and send it by certified mail, return receipt requested.
5. When the H-1B petition is approved, the next step varies. o If you are inside the US, look at the approval notice. If the bottom part is a detachable I-94, tear it off and staple it to the I-94 that you have in your passport. This I-94 indicates that USCIS changed your status. Note that you don't have a visa . You are done and continue to be legally in the US. Be aware that this H-1B status is good only until your next trip outside the US (Canada [Images] and Mexico are usually OK). At that point, you will need a visa to return. o If you are inside the US and there is NO I-94 attached, you need to leave immediately. Then follow the same procedure as described in the next option. o If you are outside the US, go to a US consulate in your home country (preferably the one that your employer specified on form I-129) and apply for a visa. The exact procedure varies; check the consulate's Web site for the local procedures.
Pritam asked, After applying for H1B by employer at US, what process will be followed? When person get visa call, in how much time? After getting H1B visa, in how much time person has to made his first visit US? What about family dependant visa?
Arun Vakil answers, Timing is difficult to say as heavy demand and rush is there for this visa category. Filing is done Apr 01 every year and issuance takes place on Oct 01 every year. After getting visa, one should go as soon as one can. At the time of entry to the US, visa should be valid and employer letter should say that job stands valid. Family==spouse and children below 21 can go as H-4 dependents
ragav asked, SIR WHAT IS THE COST OF PREMIUM H1B VISA?
Arun Vakil answers, $1000 (~Rs 40,000).
Navin Chawla asked, I have H1B visa recently stamped on my passport processed by one employer. Will it be possible for me to work in US for a different employer immediately?
Arun Vakil answers, Not immediately. You have to work for a few months for employer who has sponsored you and then think of a change.
S M ALI asked, and what is the minimum creteria to get H1 visa
Arun Vakil answers, Graduate with Specialty skills. Read my article on Rediff.com for details
kumar_001 asked, Hi sir, I did MBA and pursuing MS(CS) now from banaglore last year november i applied for f-1 visa for MBA in international business and i got rejected becoz in the application i mentioned that my sister is citizen and brother is on H-1 working for a MNC after that i joined a MNC USA based software company in banaglore, now can i get a business visa or h-1b visa and do i have to mention the details of my sister and brother in the appliction and can i go to bombay or delhi consulate.coz i my luck is not good with madras consulate.
Arun Vakil answers, You have to apply where you reside and have property. You have to be honest in stating where your blood relations are in the US. You have to build a case that you will return on completion of your objectives of visiting the US if it is a tourist visa.
S M ALI asked, shall I individual apply for an H1B visa?
Arun Vakil answers, You can, provided you have a job petitioned for you in the US by an employer that is approved by US Dept of Labor and USCIS.
pariharsatyender asked, how many places are available for US grads under H1B?
Arun Vakil answers, 20,000 visas for graduating students from US universities per year.
ragav asked, hai vakil how much is the H1B QOUTA THIS TIME ? WHEATHER SAME 65 K OF WILL THEY INCREASE?
Arun Vakil answers, Quota unchanged at 65,000. Pressure is there to increase. Do not anticipate increase until 2009 for 2010 quota.
Sajith asked, I has filed h1B last year and they asked 201(g) after submitting also ,and based on the doc they rejected . Consulate officer is asking why u r moving so many comapnies ...[I am having 6+ exp ..and i moved 4 companes ] ...I want to know 1)What are the doc are required for H1B and where we can get this . 2)Whether moving to companies is an issue and how we can overcome this 3)What are the doc that we can ask from consultants
Arun Vakil answers, Frequent movements in jobs show uncertainty and unsound decision making that raises doubts about genuiness of applicant
Phil asked, Hi did my diploma after 10th and have 9+ yrs of exp. what are the chance of me getting a H1B visa
Arun Vakil answers, Depends on your skill, but graduation is desirable.
oliver asked, In wat conditions can an individual apply directly for an H1B visa?
Arun Vakil answers, Employer has to petition for you first. No one can apply directly except in case of dependents
santosh asked, hi, I got my B1/B2 visa in Nov 2007, and I am planning to go to US Jan 2008, can you please guide whts the best way for getting h1 visa after landing in US or in india.
Arun Vakil answers, Find an employer who can file for you. Before that, register your bio on an Indian web site called www.nostops.org which opens opportunity to expose yourself to various employers. This website also helps getting jobs.
dinesh asked, hi my company had filed a H1B visa for me this year. But unfortunately it dint make through the cap and was rejected. Will the condition be the same this year where in the visa applictions will be selected by Lot system? Kindly clarify. Thanks in advance
Arun Vakil answers, Looks like same thing will prevail this year also.
srini asked, I have a valid L1 Blanket visa from my current company, Another company has filed H1B for me and it has been approved. If i go to counsalate for stamping and in case if my H1 B is rejected will my L1 visa be void?
Arun Vakil answers, L1 will not be void in case of H1B rejection.
kumardaa asked, I appeared for H1B Visa interview last week,but they took all the documents and returned the passport and said that they will call again,so do I expect call again?
Arun Vakil answers, If you have pink slip, you will get a call. If blue slip there is long wait.
shyam asked, which are the best consultancies for IT jobs in USA thru H1B visa
Arun Vakil answers, There is no list of consultancies as such. You have to search on the Net and make assessment. Alternatively, as mentioned earlier, register yourself on http://www.nostops.org
sac asked, If I hold H1B Visa when associated with a particular IT company in India. And if I want to shift to some other company then will H1B be also transferred. If yes then is here any legal procedure for the same?
Arun Vakil answers, New employer has to file H1B for you and when approved, transfer is possible in the US.
afaque asked, Hi !! I hav 2 years International experiece in sales . totality 5 years in sales. cud u plz tel me the way to acquire US visa ....thnx
Arun Vakil answers, Unless you have special skills, you cannot get H1B. Sales is not regarded as special skills. You have to look for other options by consulting a professional.
kumsmr asked, hi... i applied visa april 2007. got approved. but i wne to embassy for visa stamping. but vo issed 221 g for 1. 15 photos employers 2. employers active project 3. w2- forms & income tax for 3 years. but if i submited documents visa will be approved? please answer me. thanks
Arun Vakil answers, Difficult to say. 221g cases take long time as many checks take place that take time.
Pavan asked, Dear Vakil saab, can you please comment on your gut feeling about increasing the cap for the year 2009? - I'm repeating the question - I know you do not have any control on it, but just want to know your gut feeling on this. Thanks Pavan from Cambridge - UK
Arun Vakil answers, After US Presidential elections when new President is elected and takes office in January 2009, some changes can be possible during later part of 2009 and the benefit may accrue in 2010.
Kalps asked, Hello Sir, I got my H1 visa stamped last year thru consultant and i have not travelled so far...if my consultant cancels my visa wud it be a problem for me in the future?
Arun Vakil answers, Consultant cannot cancel a visa as visa is issued by US Consulate. You can travel on H1B visa if is is valid and you have valid employment letter with you.
Nagarajan Pillai asked, What are the chances of getting H1 while I am on a B1 visit in US?
Arun Vakil answers, It is pure luck.
geny asked, I have my F1 student visa interview tmrw at 10.30... Could you please help me with some last minute tips Sir?
Arun Vakil answers, Read my book GATEWAY TO AMERICA available at all major Indian bookstores.
asdrajan asked, I have a B1 visa (issued on feb 2006) and a schengen visa (issued on aug 2006 and due for expiry on january). The problem is that i have not travelled to any foreign country utilising these visa. My H1 B is due for stamping. My question is whether this will cause any problem during the visa interview.
Arun Vakil answers, No problem but visa officer may ask why you have not used these visas. You have to give satisfactory answers
ramki asked, Can we convert B1 to H1 by any chance?
Arun Vakil answers, Yes, you can.
bhooshan asked, Hi Arun, i have H1 but i also got one company ready to transfer my H1, how good is it doing a transfer in INDIA than USA
Arun Vakil answers, Transfer in India not possible, only in the US.
somu asked, IT returns fillig is compulsory for VISA processing ? if so how many years ??
Arun Vakil answers, Normally 3 years IT returns to be kept available in case asked. Generally not asked.
oliver asked, Can an Indian job applicant apply through a sponsor company for H1 after completion of University education in the US, & while in the US?
Arun Vakil answers, So long as the company is reputed.
Suka asked, I have got my H1B from US and appeared for stamping in chennai.They have sent my docs to US again for review... Now that the status of the case is in review.. what is the chance of getting Visa?
Arun Vakil answers, Cannot say until your case is studied. Contact a professional.
gopi asked, what is the percentage of success for H1B visas(ratio in lottery system)if the employer is willing to pay any additional amount to obtain the H1B visa?
Arun Vakil answers, Extra money cannot get you H1B.
AKHIL asked, Good Evening Dr. Vakil .... Is it possible to have your Contact Number & Address, please?
Arun Vakil answers, Reach me on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
coolagechap asked, Hi Arun i went to US on J1 durin july 5,2005. but unfortunately , i committe a blunder. I was told by my school to go back to india since i got waiver from DOS before the extension given by school. So I decided to convert my status to F1 there but my earlier school wrote somethng to USCIS n my COS was denied on Apr 3,2007. But i got waiver on 212(e). I came to India on may 22,2007. I already complete my MS frm my new school before i got denial, I was left wth thesis submission which I submitte after coming here. Now what is my chance of getting H1 next year. Thanks in advance
Arun Vakil answers, Your case needs proper study and then only I can give comments.
felix asked, Hello sir, VisaRetrogression for EB-3 when it expected to end..
Arun Vakil answers, No one can tell.
Sonu asked, I have got the H1B this year but I am unable to go till March 2008 because of some problem..Can it be a Problem at the Port of entry ?
Arun Vakil answers, So long as your visa and job are valid.
sujaimurali asked, Hi, I'm a Diploma Holder (10+3) and have worked in US for 2 years on L1B Ind visa. I have an overall 6+ years of exp in IT. Please let me know if am eligible for applying for an H2?
Arun Vakil answers, Looks difficult as H1B wants graduation and special skills.
Vijay Jain asked, Can i apply for H1 B on my own
Arun Vakil answers, No.