H1b Visa Status: The Questions and Guide to Succeed

The H1B Visas have gained impetus due to their opportunity offered to foreign nationals to work and live in the USA. The applications for the visas are chosen through a lottery system and there is a maximum limit of 85,000 approvals. The professions under the H1B Visas are specialized skill areas and involve industries like science, technology, engineering, and math.

The H1B Visas have to be sponsored by the employers and one cannot apply without a proper US sponsor. The visas have been in high demand and given way to many immigrants for realizing their American dream. But many H1B Visas workers do not have accurate information about how much they can make.

The big questions always revolve around the savings and for that approximate cost of living needs to be derived. Based on standard expenses and the prevalent rates and laws, presented below is an approximate cost of living applicable in USA. The expenses can always vary depending on your preferences.

Expenses in USD

  1. Accommodation – 1100 (Depends on location)
  2. Transportation – 500 (Car EMI, Insurance, and gas)
  3. Supplies – 300
  4. Utility Bill – 100
  5. Mobile Bill – 115 (National + International)
  6. Outdoor eating – 100 (Occasional outings)
  7. Entertainment expenses – 150

Total – 2345

The net salary in many states of the US like Wisconsin is around $ 3,700 per month. This would translate to a sum of $ 60,000 annual earnings with a Gross salary of $5,000. The net salary is calculated after deducting the taxes from the pay. The savings accumulated under such regulations would be:

  1. Net salary – $ 3,700
  2. Monthly expenses – $ 2345

Savings (Difference of the above amounts) – $ 1355.

The amount of savings presented is tentative and will vary according to lifestyle standards. It is always possible to spend more and there will be additional expenses to set up a new life in USA. The payable salaries also vary from state to state along with differing rates of income taxes in some places. It is always useful to look up information specific to the place of your work and plan out your budget. Overall, it is possible to make a decent amount of savings if the indulgences are kept in control.

H1B Visa Status and Regulation

The hike on H1B Visa fee brought in by the US government at the end of last year has not been able to bring down the number of visa applications. The fee was hiked to $ 4,000 which is double than the previous rate. The fees for other types of visas like L1 were also increased to $ 4,500. The H1B Visas are used by companies in USA to hire foreign labor for specialized skill requiring jobs.

The idea behind issuing the visas is to provide an adequate supply of talented workers from foreign countries when it is not available in America. Companies are required to pay for the visa processing charges and the move was expected to dampen the demand around H1B Visas. But on the contrary, the number of applications received for the fiscal year 2016 was almost thrice the permissible quota.

There are other regulations waiting to be introduced in a bill gets passed. It seeks to limit the ability of US companies to hire a foreign resource to the H1B Visas. The presidential candidates like Donald trump have promised to increase the minimum wage of such visa workers and make the system stricter. This has fuelled worries amongst the US companies like IT and Engineering who depend on the visa to fulfill job positions left vacant.

Recently Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy at Bangalore, Joseph M Pomper dispelled all such notions about the visas in an interview to a local newspaper. He did not think such regulations and bills can be passed very easily as they are under the visa and immigration law regulated by US Congress. The promises or speeches made during an election rally may not translate into reality in the end.

The same sentiment was echoed by the president of Nasscom who thought it is unnecessary to fuss every time such a bill or regulation comes into the picture. India features at the top place when it comes to granting H1B Visas and forms 70% of the total applications approved by the government. The views of experts along with the recent demand of H1B Visas seen this year do not make things look so bad. America needs to fill its jobs and stay competitive in the market and tightening H1B Visas laws is not the way to go.

Breaking the Myths about H1B Visas

Granting of H1B Visas by the United States has become stricter year after year. The issue has been raised on debates by presidential candidates, covered extensively by the media and discussed in many conferences and seminars. The regulations around the H1B Visas which are given to foreign workers are going to be tougher if a new bill is passed by the country. The restrictions around the issuing of such visas are fueled by various reasons from protecting rights of American labor to internal safety.

The Apprehension around H1B Visas

The cause of the H1B Visas was once championed by politicians. But in past few years, the process of issuing clearance to American companies to hire foreign workers under the H1B Visas have come under the fire from politicians and lawmakers. The visa is granted to foreign nationals who come to the US to work in especially skilled areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The reasons cited for raising the restrictions are mostly presented as moves to protect the right of American labor. The Foreign influx of labor at cheap rate may influence companies to hire outsiders over citizens of America. There are also increased concern over illegal immigration and terrorism, mostly after the 9/11 incident and the recent cases around the world.

The Reality behind the Apprehensions

American Workers are Left Behind

The industries under the STEM skills do not get enough labor from America to meet the demands of jobs that are left vacant. The US currently allows only 65,000 foreign STEM workers whereas the country itself requires 12,000 computer engineers additionally each year. American graduates eligible for such jobs are only 1/3 in number and cannot satisfy the demand of workers.

American Lose Out Jobs because of Immigration

Scott College of Georgia had a study conducted by one of its professors which indicated that employing 100 H1B Visa workers resulted in a creation of 183 additional jobs in USA. So in reality, restricting the applications of H1B Visas ultimately hampers the job prospect for US citizens. By rejecting 178,000 H1B Visa applications in technology category during 2007 – 2008, America lost the chance to create 231,224 jobs in the same category for Native Americans.

How You Can Start Your Own Business With Your H1B Visa?

If you had got an H1B visa to work in the United States and stumbled upon a business opportunity that you really do not want to miss out on, do not worry, your H1B visa is enough for you to start your business in the country.

Starting Up Your Own Business in the States With an H1B Visa

The USCIS, back in 2011, made a welcome announcement for all entrepreneurs out there in the world who were thinking of migrating to the US and establishing their own business there.

The USCIS has allowed aspiring entrepreneurs to start their single person startup in the US, and there is now no need to apply for the Green card. Anybody who qualifies for an H1-B or EB2 visa is entitled to this benefit and can start a business there of their own.

The USCIS, on its part, had taken feedback from various participants and interested parties back in 2011, in a stakeholder meeting and also took suggestions on how the USCIS could actually address the unique problems of migrant entrepreneurs and new businesses.

The USCIS then decided that an EB-2 immigrant visa might be offered to the immigrants if they fulfil the existing requirement and they might even qualify for the National Interest Waiver if the entrepreneurs can show that their business model and startup will actually be beneficial for the people of that country.

What does this Mean For Entrepreneurs?

Now you can start your own business in the United States even while you are in the process of migrating. It untangles the hordes of legal tangles and the years of a wait before a foreign entrepreneur could actually set up and start his business in the United States before. You do need to get your authorization from USCIS though before you start off with your business.

On the downside, there are still a number of legal complications that you need to take care of. If you’re starting new, it is advisable to consult with an attorney regarding the ways to go about it, as migrating and starting a business is not as easy a task and may involve complex webs of law imbibed onto it.

This has actually been one of the most significant developments on the immigration front, and a great way for people around the world to give wings to their dreams and making their imagination run wild, giving the fullest to harness their true potentials.

New Bill on H1B Visas Does Not Address the Underlying Problems

USA is seeking to add another legislation to restrict the issue of H1B Visas to Indian IT firms. The bill is yet to be passed and it has become a matter of concern for many companies. The restrictions around the H1B Visas are aimed to promote local American workforce against the influx of immigrant workers. But such restrictions fail to go down and address the underlying root cause that is plaguing USA for a long time.

Shortage of Skilled Labor

America has been witnessing an acute shortage of skilled laborers in the STEM area. STEM being an abbreviation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, these skills are brought in from overseas through H1B Visas. USA does not have an adequate workforce to meet the demands in these areas. The same is also pointed out by US Labor Department statistics.

The growth of IT industry in USA will grow faster at 12% within 2014 to 2024 surpassing all other professions. But the graduates of America with STEM skills will be outnumbered by the vacant positions which can rise to 2.4 million by 2018. By 2020 America may encounter around 1 million vacant job positions in IT by the end of 2020.

Adverse Effect of the Restrictions

The goal of promoting locals first is not going to benefit USA or its economy. The country is unable to supply the workforce required to meet the demand of jobs created by itself. Foreign labor on H1B Visas meets this demand and provides America with the assistance and support required for its IT industry. The other areas of STEM are also affected in a negative manner with an inadequate supply of labor to fill the positions.

A free mindset adopted for H1B Visas would help America become more competitive in the corporate domain. Restrictions adversely create discrimination among the workforce and prevent companies from accessing the manpower they require. It ultimately hampers the growth of the nation along with revenue generation. There would be a huge loss when all the unfilled positions would result in significant loss of national revenue. It is yet to be seen if the bill is passed or not when it comes up for its trial.

The Truth Behind H1B Visa Concerns

Immigration has been a big concern for America, especially after the 9/11 incident. Recent terrorist activities in the country and all over the world have made the immigration process tougher than ever. Getting a work visa for the US is no longer a possibility for many while some with special skills may get through with the H1B Visas. The visas are granted to foreign nationals sponsored by US companies to work in specific high skill areas of the industry.

The visas have come under attack and criticism for promoting the cheap foreign labor to displace native workers and some other issues. A recent bill and the presidential candidates have vowed for reforms and changes in the process of issuing H1B Visas citing various reasons.

H1B Visa critics argue that companies pay lower wages to H1B Visa workers and hire them instead of Americans while there are enough native resources available. But in truth, it has been seen there is a lack of adequate college graduates in the US to fill all the jobs positions available. Information from Department of Labor and a recent Michigan report on STEM students showed that the talent scarcity was met mostly by international nationals. There are areas in STEM sector where there is a shortage of workers.

Another point of argument against the H1B Visa is the lower wages paid to foreign employees which make them preferable to the company. Frauds have lead to arrests where the culprits used the system to hire foreign workers without any actual positions. The employees were made to work in third party companies and paid just for their working hours. Such incidents exist, but organizations following the federal laws abide by the rules of a minimum wage. Moreover, the company has to pay for the whole visa process and other charges which ultimately make a H1B worker quite expensive.

There is indeed necessity of reforming the system and increasing surveillance to ensure all laws are followed while hiring H1B Visa workers. An open and accessible platform for lodging complaints by employees against H1B misuse has to be developed. Many employees avoid raising their voice against unjust practices of their companies in fear of losing the job and the opportunity to stay in USA.

Indian Tech Workers Receive a Large Number of H-1B Visas

According to a report by USCIS, more than 2,100,000 tech professionals from India signed up for H-1B work visas in the past 11 years. This report has also refuted claims that visa candidates were not highly qualified. The salaries of the visa holders has amounted to an average of $92,317. Most of them held either a masters or bachelor’s degree.

The facts to know:

As per the Press Trust of India, the number of H-1B visa applications USCIS received was 3,400,000 in between 2007 and June 2017. Out of this, 2,100,000 belonged to India alone. This was the same period when the US issued H-1B visas to 2,600,000 people, as per the USCIS report. Indians filed the maximum amount of H-1B applications between 2007 and 2017.

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The report also that most of the recipients of H-1B visas were in the age group of 25-34. 2,000,000 were from the IT speciality occupation category. Architecture and surveying follow, receiving a maximum number of visas (318,670). Administrative specialisation, education, and medicine received 245,000, 244,000 and 185,000 H-1B visas, respectively.

In this time frame, more than 2,000 foreign workers over the age of 65 years received H-1B visas. In 2017, people above 65 years of age have received 122 H-1B visas till now.

The report also states that the maximum number of H-1B visas were received by the custom computer programming services industry.

There has also been a surge in the average salaries of H-1B visa holders. Breitbart News has stated that around 70 to 80 percent of the foreign workers coming into the US every year on H-1B visas hailed from India.

USCIS Data Reveals H-1B Visas Trends for 2017

The USCIS has unveiled new data for the usage of H1B visas. These are some of the latest H-1B visas trends based on this data:

Overall fall in the number of H-1B visa applications:

By the end of June 2017, potential immigrants filed over 3, 36, 000 H-1B visas petitions at the doors of the USCIS out of which the latter approved 1, 97, 129 visas. This means a decrease from the previous 399,349 H-1B visas petitions received in 2016.

The percentage of visa approvals has gone down too:

As per data, the USCIS has approved about 58% visa petitions in 2017 till date. That is considerably lesser than the 87% visa petitions they approved in 2016.

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Average salary of H-1B visa workers has increased:

The latest records show a considerable surge in the average annual wage of H-1B visa holders in 2017. This means there has been a large jump from 2007, as per information provided by the Gadgets Now.

Candidates aged 25- 34 years were benefited largely:

USCIS data has also shown that a major portion of the recipients of the H-1B visas belong to the age group of 25- 34 years.

IT field professionals receive maximum visas:

According to USCIS data, professionals from Computer-related fields were the maximum recipients of the H-1B visas. Engineering, Architecture, Administrative specializations, Health, Education, Surveying and Medicine followed soon after.

Number of Indian applications has decreased:

The latest H-1B visas trends also highlight that the highest number of H-1B visas petitions came from India in 2017 amounting to 2, 47, 000 petitions. But data also suggests that there was a decrease from the 3, 00,000 petitions filed in 2016.

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