Are you a foreign national currently in the United States and seeking temporary employment? Do you have academic credentials for a specialty occupation? If yes, you may be eligible to apply for the H-1B nonimmigrant visa. This visa is suitable for work in specialized fields listed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), such as but not limited to, positions in architecture, physics, chemistry, accounting, or data communication. The sections below tackle the main points you need to know before applying for an H-1B visa.
H-1B special occupation visas are one of the most sought after by nonimmigrants due to its low set of requirements and portability. However, the number of H-1B visas released annually is limited by the U.S. government, which is why it is highly recommended to work with an immigration attorney to boost your chances of getting visa approval. This visa will allow you to work for a period of time under the employer who petitioned for you.
Here are a few things to note when filing your visa application.
Check qualifications for your work visa.
If you already have a job offer from a U.S. employer, then you need to check that your occupation is for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa. How? As per the criteria set by Immigration Services, your job must require the application of a specialized body of knowledge and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree earned in the U.S. or in an accredited university from a foreign country.
Specialty occupations involve duties needing complex knowledge that only an individual with a certain kind of advanced degree or specialized training can accomplish. H1B-visa holders with no license are ineligible to practice their profession. Moreover, they need an unrestricted state license or certification can practice in the state where sponsoring the company is.
Understand how exemptions work.
Certain exemptions might apply to you if your degree was awarded by a public or non-profit U.S. institution duly recognized by a national agency, or if your petitioner is a non-profit organization or a higher learning institute. An immigration attorney with extensive experience on H-1B cases can provide you with more details about a possible exemption and visa-waiver programs. On the other hand, if you are hired for one of the cap-exempt positions, you don’t need to worry about the lottery selection system.
Start your visa process early.
Meeting the general requirements is just the first step towards earning an H-1B visa. The next step is to fill out your immigration forms, which include the Requests for Evidence (RFE) and supporting documents, and submitting these before the deadline set by the USCIS office. Ideally, you should submit all paperwork on the day that applications open. Due to the competitive nature of the application, the window will close once the quota is reached.
The two main components needed to avoid rejection of visa applications is proof of sponsorship from your petitioning employer, and your employer’s approved Labor Condition Application. Upon submission, the Immigration Office shall first confirm your eligibility. The processing time for all applications and non-immigrant visas will depend on where it under the regular cap or the master’s cap categories. The latter is reserved for applicants with master’s degrees or advanced credentials.
Know the common reasons for visa denials.
Often, visa submissions get denied or revoked because the applicant failed to check that the job matches his academic degrees, the petition was duplicated, a section in one of your USCIS forms has been left out, or there were missing signatures. In rare cases, temporary workers can have their visas revoked if the immigration and costumes office finds out that their employer did not cover the H-1B processing costs. All fees related to a nonimmigrant’s filing, except for the premium processing fee, should be covered by your company.
Consult with an Immigration Lawyer
If you plan to work for a startup or small business, you may face several immigration issues, such as USCIS’s requirement of presenting evidence that your petitioning employer has enough cash flow to pay the prevailing wage, or properly delineating the relationship between the employer and an employee if you are a co-founder of the business petitioning your visa. All of these can be addressed by law firms with a track record of giving clients an H1B status.
With a visa attorney helping with your application, you’ll be able to understand immigration laws and procedures, get immigration advice, and avoid potential hurdles in your visa processing can be avoided.
Thinking about full-time or part-time employment? You can also file for an H1B non-immigrant petition! Contact our immigration attorneys today in North Carolina or Tustin California to get a free consultation.