The H-1B visa is a temporary U.S. work visa designed for foreign workers with specialized knowledge and skills, typically requiring at least a bachelor's degree. It allows U.S. employers to temporarily fill roles with foreign talent when suitable candidates are not readily available in the domestic workforce.
H-1B Visa Requirements
To be eligible for an H-1B visa, candidates must meet specific criteria:
- Job Offer: A U.S. employer must offer a job in a specialty occupation.
- Educational Qualification: The candidate should possess at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent in a relevant field.
- Necessity: The employer must demonstrate the unavailability of qualified U.S. candidates for the role.
Application Process and Fees
Employers are responsible for initiating the H-1B visa process by filing a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The following are key aspects of the application process:
- Registration Fees: As of April 2023, the registration fee for the H-1B lottery is $10. However, there are discussions of potential fee increases, with the worker's registration fee possibly rising to $215 and the employer's petition fee to $780.
Chances of Obtaining an H-1B Visa
Due to high demand, the USCIS limits the number of H-1B visas issued annually. The selection process is conducted by lottery, with 85,000 candidates chosen from a pool of applicants, including 65,000 in the regular quota and an additional 20,000 for candidates with master's degrees or higher.
Certain exemptions exist for higher education institutions, university-affiliated research institutes, and government research organizations. Additionally, special agreements with certain countries, such as Chile and Singapore, reserve specific spots for H-1B visas.
H-1B approval rates vary each year based on the number of applications. In FY 2023, there were over 483,000 applications, with an approval rate of approximately 26%, down from the roughly 42% rate in FY 2022.
H-1B Visa Expiration
An H-1B visa typically expires three years from its issue date. Employers requiring ongoing specialized assistance can request a visa extension for an additional three years. There are exceptions, including renewals in one-year increments if the employee has a pending I-140 immigrant petition or an extension of up to three years for those who have applied and been approved for permanent residency.
H-1B Visa and Green Card
An H-1B visa is considered a dual intent visa, allowing foreign workers to apply for a change of status if they plan to immigrate permanently. With employer sponsorship, candidates can apply for an employment-based Green Card for permanent U.S. residency.
H-1B Visa Sponsors Database
A database tracks employers sponsoring H-1B visas, including acceptance and denial statistics. Job seekers can use this database to identify potential employers willing to sponsor H-1B candidates.