The H1B Visa Application Process and Requirements
June 20th, 2023
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.
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.
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.
H1B Visa Application Schedule & Deadlines
This Schedule shows what your next steps may be in the path to obtain your US Citizenship and that of your family, once you have been approved your first immigration case. It specifically shows what the next applications to file may be and what is the earliest time they may be filed, according to the type of immigration case you first had processed. Bear in mind that you should always check with your attorney first, before applying for any immigration benefit to make sure that you qualify as there are always exceptions.
|Case Type: H1B Visa|
|Eligible Application||Earliest Filing Date|
|File for residency through a Labor Certification Application (LCA) and an employment residency petition (I-140 & I-485)||Concurrently or at the time of your H1B visa approval|
|File for H4 status for spouse & unmarried children under 21if they are outside the US (if they are inside the US, they can apply for the H4 visa at the same time you filed your H1B visa application)||At the time of your H1B visa approval|
|Renew H1B status if no Residency has been granted yet||6 months before H1B visa expiration, no later than day of expiration|
|Repeat step above as necessary until residency is approved|
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)
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.
Why is it important to apply on April 1st (the first day the USCIS accepts them), for the H-1B visa?
The USCIS starts accepting H-1B visa applications on April 1st each year, for the visas that will be issued in October of that year. In the past, H-1B visas have ran out early in the year (many times in the first days), so it is suggested that you apply as close to April 1st, to have a higher chance of there being visas available. The USCIS regularly reports on the number of H-1B visas still available for the year and you may check their web site for this information.
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.”
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 certain individuals if the right conditions are met. You can read about that here.
If I get an H1b visa, can my wife or husband work in the US?
The H1b visa, unlike an L1 visa and other non-immigrant visas, does not allow other family members, under the H4 derivative visa status, to work in the US. If a spouse desires to work in the US, he/she must obtain independent work authorization through his/her own employment sponsorship or a different type of visa if they fulfill the visa’s eligibility requirements. See the immigration section of our site which provides eligibility requirements and information about different types of visas.
Can my children attend public school in the US?
Yes. H-1B dependents (family members) or H-4’s can live and study in the U.S. as long as the H-1B or “primary” visa remains valid.
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. Click here to read about the process of transferring an H1b visa.
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.
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.
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 617-545-0715 or request an appointment online.