The H1B Visa Program Overview

The H1B Visa Program Overview

The U.S. H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Which allows U.S. employers to employ foreign graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc.

On April 18 2017, US President Trump signed the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order. Which seeks to incorporate higher wages and employment rates for US employees and secure their economic interests by enforcing and administering immigration laws. It also governs DHS, in coordination with other agencies, to advance policies to help ensure H1B visas application are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid beneficiaries.

The H1B visa holder can get the green card if the US employer offers the employee a permanent job in the United States. The green card process requires the employer to file a certification with the Department of Labor before filing a petition with the Citizenship and Immigration Services. Because of lengthy process time, the H1B workers are allowed to extend their status normally to the six years are allowed, but only if they have reached a certain stage in the green card process.

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The H1B visa program induced in order to help organizations acquire people with highly specialized knowledge. Qualifying occupations are chemistry, biotechnology, engineering (all types), mathematics, physical sciences, IT, Computing, Finance, Accounting, Banking, Marketing, Advertising, PR, Sales, Recruiting, Teaching, Health Care/Medical, Legal, Lawyers, Networking, Telecoms, Business, Management, Scientific Research etc.

If the workers in H1B status stops or is expelled from the sponsoring employer, the worker must apply for and be granted a change of status, find another employer, or need to leave the United States.  The duration period of stay is three years, extendable to six years. Workers with H1B holders who want to continue to work after six years in the USA, but they unable to obtain permanent residency status, then they must remain outside of the U.S. for one year before reapplying for another H1B visa.

The Current H1B Visa Program states that:

  • All employees on an H1B visa must be paid a minimum salary of $60,000 per annum.
  • All companies’ hires employees on an H1B visa hence have to submit a legal application citing or mentioning that they could not find an American worker for the same position.
  • All companies are allowed for a maximum of 65,000 H1B visas along with a special allotment of 20,000 visas for candidates with a Master’s degree.
  • Using a computer-based lottery system, H1B visas are allocated randomly, wherein the applicants with a Master’s degree from US universities are prioritized first. Once the quota is filled up, the rest of the members go back into the pool along with the other applicants to compete for the remaining 65,000 visas.

For years, many IT companies started hiring the candidates of H1B visa jobs in USA from India, China, Taiwan, and Korea to do regular jobs, which do not require very high levels of skill or knowledge. According to the official website of the U.S Citizenship & Immigration (USCIS), from IT companies, the percentage of H1B visa holders with a bachelor’s degree holder is as high as 47.3%. This means that people with an essential or other degree are being allowed into the U.S. using a capable visa program such as the H1B, which also permits applicants with the intent of obtaining a U.S. citizenship if they wish to.

The benefit of an H1B visa is that you can work legitimately in the U.S. in non-immigrant status, and get the visa quickly after the petition is affirmed. You can travel in and out of the U.S. or stay in the U.S. till the visa get expires, and an H4 visa is accessible for accompanying family member (e.g. spouse and minor children under 21).

An H1B visa is ordinarily issued for the period of validity of the approved H1B petition (maximum time length three years). The H1B visa might be extended for another three years for one time. Therefore, the H1B worker requires a renewal of his or her visa if he or she intends or plan to remain in the United States up to the six-year, which is the maximum period of eligible stay. The USCIS lets you to apply for H1B visa extension before 6 months of expiration.

Other regulatory provisions permit

  • The employer to request a period of less than three years,
  • The employee to be employed on a part-time basis
  • The employee to work for more than one US Employer simultaneously.

If the H1B worker never leaves the U.S. during the six-year of the period, a new visa is not required. If the worker needs to travel abroad after the expiration of his or her original H1B visa, a new visa must be obtained or generated in order for the H1B worker to re-enter the USA.

H1B visa applications can be filed by U.S. employers in one of 2 methods:

  1. H1B Regular processing
  2. H1B Premium Processing

H1B Regular Processing time is a more cost-effective method but it takes a longer time to process. There is no fixed set timeframe for a visa to be processed or handled (it take from 1 to 6 months)

H1B Premium Processing is a faster method to acquire an H1B visa. The U.S. Government does charge an additional of $1,225 for H1B Premium Processing fee (to facilitate the application processing turnaround time is 15 calendar days).

I-94 card

I-94 is in paper or in electronic format, issued by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. As an immigrant, when they arrive in the U.S., an arrival/departure record card is issued and placed in their passport next to your visa. This is called as an I-94 card that allows a foreigner to be in the U.S. (rather than the visa that provides the right to travel in and out of the U.S. in a certain status, e.g. H1B visa status). The U.S. immigration official at the U.S. port of entry will review the foreigner’s immigration documents (e.g. H1B visa) and stamp the I-94 card with an expiry date along with the visa expiry. The immigration official has the power to restrict a foreigner stay irrespective of the visa expiration. I-94 card is removed when the foreigner leaves the U.S.

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