Answers to your H-1b Visa Questions
February 18th, 2022
As we approach H-1 visa registration time, we would like to share with you answers to the most common H-1b visa questions our Boston immigration lawyers receive.
1. What is an H-1b Visa?
An H-1b Visa is a non-immigrant visa that is generally used by companies to have a foreign national employee, who is a professional worker (with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in work experience), legally live in the U.S. while working for that company.
2. Who can apply for an H-1b Visa?
To apply for an H-1B visa for a specialty worker the company’s petition must meet the following requirements:
- The candidate has a bachelor degree or a combination of education and /or work experience, which is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in a field of study directly, related to the position.
- A job offer for a position which is professional—requiring at least a 4 year college degree (Bachelor’s Degree),
- A salary and working conditions that meet the prevailing wage standard for the geographic area where your candidate will be working, that has been approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.
3. What is the H-1b Visa Lottery?
The H-1b visa lottery is the random selection process through which USCIS selects registrations in order to distribute the 85,000 H-1b visas available in the U.S. each year (20,000 reserved for those with Masters’ degrees or higher from a U.S. college/university and 65,000 for those with at least a Bachelor’s degrees or it’s equivalent, including advanced degrees)
4. When can I apply for an H-1b Visa?
- The company must create an H-1B registration account as early as February 21st.
- The company must register each candidate for the lottery between March 1st and March 18h.
- If the registration is selected by the USCIS, then the company can submit the complete H-1B visa petition as soon as they are notified. In 2021 the first selection of lottery recipients was done by March 31st, but there were additional lottery selections done in the summer and fall as there were still visas available from the 85,000 yearly maximum.
5. If I am married, will my spouse obtain a Work Permit?
The spouse of a person with an H-1B visa can apply for work authorization (I-765) if they are present in the U.S. with an H-4 visa (for dependents of H-1b visa holders), and if the H-1B non-immigrant spouse:
- Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
- Has been granted a 7th year extension H-1B Visa.
6. What is the duration of an H-1b Visa?
H-1b Visas are granted for up to 3 years and can be renewed or transferred repeatedly for up to 6 years, unless the Beneficiary is eligible for a “7th Year Extension.”
7. What happens after I reach the 6th year with my H-1b Visa?
Extensions beyond 6 years, commonly known as 7th Year Extensions, are available for individuals for whom:
- An LCA (Labor Condition Application – Form ETA 9089) was filed prior to the beginning of their 6th year of their H1B visa status, and
- This LCA is pending; or if it has been approved, there is a related I-140 (employment based residency visa petition) pending or approved.
8. I have an H-1b Visa and I have an offer from another company. Can I transfer my H-1b Visa?
Yes, an H-1b visa may be transferred to a new employer. The H-1B holder / beneficiary may begin working in the new job prior the approval of this transfer, however, if the transfer is not approved the original H-1B visa will be lost. It is therefore recommended, to complete the transfer of the H-1b visa before starting work in a new job.
9. I have an H-1B visa and I was fired. Is my visa still valid?
If you lose your job, you have a 60 days grace period to find another employer that will sponsor your H-1b visa. After the 60th day, USCIS will revoke your visa and if you remain in the U.S. you will start accruing unlawful presence.
10. I have an H-1b Visa and I was detained by the police. Will a criminal charge affect my H-1b Visa?
Almost any criminal conviction can have a negative impact on an individual’s immigration status. Therefore, if you are facing a criminal charge it is a good idea to be represented by a lawyer that has experience in both criminal and immigration law.
11. What are the legal and filing fees of an H-1b Visa Petition?
There are generally two different costs involved in preparing and applying for an H-1B visa:
- The H1B attorney fees (see our legal fees for an H1B visa),
- The H-1B Visa Registration Fee of $10.00, and
- The H-1B visa USCIS filing fees (Generally between $1,210.00 and $3,960.00)
If you and your employer are interested in applying for an H-1b visa, please contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our immigration lawyers at 617-303-2600 or request an appointment online.