H1B skilled workers have a variety of taxes to be paid – which is incurred by their employers and are deducted from their payroll each month. We also know that the business or the sponsoring company is the one that pays the H1B Visa fee of the skilled workers and basically, the employer pays all the expenses that are incurred during the process of the H1B visa approval.
These taxes have to be paid by the H1B skilled worker for their work that they are doing in the US and the payroll that they are getting each month.
The salary you get does not matter, and it is irrelevant. Your monthly wages are what they are as set by the employer and agreed upon by you before you start working with them. The point to be noted here is that a small portion of that money is deducted from your salary instead of taxes that are paid by the employer on your behalf.
What type of Taxes needs to be Paid?
Employers pay a broad range of taxes for an H1B employee when they run their payroll. These taxes are the same as paid by everyone in the US including Green Card Holders and US Citizens.
These taxes are deducted from their paycheck each month by the employer. The employers incur the following percentage of taxes for an H1B employee:
1. Social Security taxes are subject to change each year (6.2%)
2. Medicare taxes (2.45%)
3. State Unemployment Tax (SUI)
4. Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
5. General Liability Insurance and Worker’s Compensations Premiums
All in all, it can be said that about 12% of an H1B worker’s monthly salary goes into the taxes that is deducted from his paycheck each month by the employer.
Primary Taxes that needs to be paid
From the taxes mentioned above, the Social Security taxes and the Medicare taxes are the primary taxes that have to be paid by the employers of all H1B workers whereas all the unemployment taxes and the general liability taxes are some of the other expenses incurred by the employers.
You can check your pay stub to determine the type and amount of taxes deducted from your salary.
The Most Common Causes of H1B Request for Evidence (RFE)
It is common for USCIS to ask for RFE (Request for Evidence) to support your filed petition. The waiting period for the USCIS to respond is agonizing no doubt. Though it is a thoroughly scrutinizing process, it can be best understood through careful and convincing explanations. Here are some of the most common RFE reasons listed below.
1) Validation Instrumentation for Business Enterprises (VIBE)
VIBE is a tool to help adjudicate petitions based on employment. It uses commercially available data from an independent information provider like Dun and Bradstreet.
Using the information provided, it validates the basic details about the companies petitioning. A relatively straightforward request for the information about an organization is sent by USCIS when details provided by an employer and do not have a matching information in its system. Mismatches usually happen with information on recent relocation and change in corporate structure.
2) Specialty Occupation
As defined by the immigration law, a specialty occupation is one that requires a Bachelor’s degree or higher degree or its equivalent in the specialized field. There are four ways to show that a position can be classified as a specialty occupation.
3) Needs of the Petitioner for the Services of the Beneficiary
It is an issue with small business employees where skill is not associated with people working in such a business. Only if a proper demonstration by the employer is made that the beneficiary is going to be working in a qualifying specialty occupation and not in a role of lesser capacity, will the petition be approved.
4) Beneficiary Qualifications
There are times when a beneficiary’s education may not be in the exact field of his work, but in a relatable field instead. An explanation and necessary documents need to be produced to show how the degree is related to the position secured.
5) Employer-Employee Relationship
Sufficient documents need to be produced to establish that the employer has necessary control over the employee he is sponsoring in regards to when, where, and how the employee performs the job.
6) Maintenance of Status
In the case of H1B petition status extension or change of status, proper documents that the employee has maintained the current status like pay statements, coursework, class attendance, need to be produced.
These are the common issues that initiate an RFE. If you had faced an RFE for other reasons, add it in the comments below!
Top 3 Professions to Get the Most Approved H1B
The H1B is a non-immigrant visa that enables a worker to stay in the United States temporarily. It is a common visa that many try applying throughout the world as it is considered an excellent employment opportunity.
A maximum limit known as the regular cap is set and this allows a total of 65,000 visas to be applied for a fiscal year along with an addition of 20,000 visas to those who have earned a U.S based Masters or Higher Degree.
Out of this vast number, what is the approximate distribution of the visas based on the occupation of the applicant?
Here are the statistics.
H1B Visa Distribution according to Professions
The top occupations holding a significant share in the visa distribution are as follows:
1) Computer-related occupations
Technology in the field of computer science has evolved over the past decade and will continue to grow with years to come. In fact, this sector offers many employment opportunities.
The growth is expected to be 12 percent in the next decade, and that is close to 488,500 new jobs majorly in the field of cloud computing, big data and most importantly the Internet of Things.
The latter is said to bring about a bigger evolution than the Internet. It lays emphasis on connecting our everyday objects for a seamless and convenient lifestyle. Therefore, it is not surprising that this holds the maximum share in the distribution.
In the financial year 2014, this category received a total of 203,425 approved H1Bs.
2) Occupations in Architecture, Engineering, and Surveying
Histories speak of achievements by looking at the architectural wonders built. The Egyptian Pyramids, Taj Mahal are some of the perfect examples.
Over the years, as technology has evolved, so have our innovations in creating better, fancier structures around us. Therefore, it is not hard to believe that the scope of employment opportunities is large in this sector.
It received an approval of 29,103 visas during 2014.
3) Occupations in Administrative Specializations
The demand for business professionals is quite high. The blend of management, administrative and information technology skills is a much required to run any institution. Even the educational sector have caught up with the demand and are offering a variety of courses on management, MBA being the most popular.
This profession had successfully employed 18,905 H1B workers in 2014.
Some of the other honorable mentions are Occupation in Education, Occupation in Medicine and Health, Occupation in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Managers and Officials N.E.C and Occupation in Life Sciences in the same order.
H1B Port of Entry Formalities Guide
A port of entry is an immigration checkpoint at the destination airport of the U.S. Here, on your arrival, you will be asked certain questions, your passport will get stamped, and you will be given an I-94 counter slip.
The U.S has 327 ports of entry that includes 115 airports and 14 seaports. One can stay in the United States until the expiration date printed on the visa. A U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will generally undertake these procedures. It is to ensure physical and economic security is not breached by anyone entering the country.
Note that there might be chances of typing errors on the I94 slip, therefore, it is necessary for you to double check the details carefully.
What to expect at the port of entry?
Verification of documents, examination of your luggage will take place at the entry. One will be asked the following general questions.
- Purpose of visit
- Duration of visit
- Place of stay during your visit
- If you have means to support yourself financially for the duration of your stay in the United States.
- If your supporting documents match your purpose of visit.
If the answers to the above questions do not convince the CBP officer, a secondary and a detailed examination is undertaken to determine accessibility.
Answering to the officer can be stressful and taxing. Be clear about your purpose and answer confidently. Provide the necessary documents without any hitches.
List of supporting documents you need to produce at POE
Passport with valid H1B Visa stamping
H1B Approval notice
The offer letter provided by the company that sponsored your H1B Visa
employee agreement that you may have signed with your H1B beneficiary
Experience letters from previous work (if any)
Work-related documents (if any)
Professional licenses or certificates (if any)
Your original educational degree certificates
MS or any other degree from America like I20s from schools you attended, OPT card related to your employment before H1B Visa or previous W2 forms, if you have worked on F1 Visa.
There have been rare but present cases of H1B visa holders who have gone to their home country to get their visa stamped for extension only to be sent back at POE without proper reason. It is advisable to avoid going to the home country or any other country if you can.
If it is unavoidable, do not fret. Provide proper documents and give no room for doubts while you answer the questions.
Predictions of H-1B visa regulations under Trump
The new President-elect- Donald Trump will start his presidency period in the USA from January 20, 2017. His campaigns have already been started, and he has been successful enough to scare away the non-resident Americans, with his plan to reform the visa regulation petition of the United States of America.
Once, Trump clearly mentioned that he is against the H-1B reform since it is taking away jobs from an American citizen. However, in another addressable speech to the citizens of American, he disclosed his 10 points immigration plan for H-1B visa holders and clearly mentioned that the H-1B visa will not be ruled out of the petition book.
Although certain changes like an increase in wages, equal job openings for American residents, a test for the employers who want H-1B visa workers, will be ruled in. We are going to reveal the predictions around H1B visas under the presidency of Trump.
H1B is not going to be abolished
American multinational companies like Infosys, Intel, Cognizant, will be able to bring in skilled workers from countries like India and China. Most of the multinational companies mainly depend on the workforce provided by foreign countries and to curb this ability is suicidal.
We will get access to H1B visas, though some conditions like higher wages, proof of lack of native labor, can be implemented strongly.
The annual cap
It has been predicted that with Trump’s administration, the 85,000 limit of H-1B visas may suffer a serious cut-down. However, tech companies and universities have appealed not to destroy the visas of the workers who are already holding an H-1B visa since that can be serious growth damage to the companies and hamper the US economy.
We think it is going to be kept at the current cap under Trump as it has remained unchanged for many years.
Getting a green card
Green card petitions, in the states, are taken care of by the US citizenship and immigration services. Trump’s plan to put a limitation on the green card issue, may make it a bit tough for the H-1b visa workers.
But following current trends, not many workers intend to stay back in the first place and very few actually apply for the green card. So it can be assumed the scenario will be like present times.
Common Questions Asked in H1B Interview
Aspiring H1B employees have to undergo an interview at a US Consulate office before they are granted the permission to work and stay. Many people become nervous about the idea of facing an interview with the authorities. But it is a part of the approval process and is not a scary situation. You should be relaxed and carry yourself confidently as you do in any professional interview.
Before you go to the interview, keep all the documents together that you will need. DO not forget to carry a copy of the H1B petition filed by your American sponsor. You should properly organize the documents so that they can be easily accessed without delay during the interview. Also keep track of all the fees and charges that are required to be paid by checking the Consulate website.
Research Your Company and Job Position
Most of the questions asked by the officers are related to your job position and the company you will be working for. So it is essential to research the company for elements like the number of employees, turnover, functions, etc. You should also be familiar with your job responsibilities and know basic things like your salary, office location, etc.
Common Questions Asked
We have compiled a list of questions that you can be asked at the H1B interview. Going through them will help you prepare yourself and be ready to answer them promptly as they are raised.
- What is your company involved in?
- What is your primary skill?
- What role will you be fulfilling in your company?
- Where will you put up in the USA?
- What do your job duties involve?
- What is your salary?
- Which university did you graduate from?
- What is the annual turnover of your employer?
- How many employees are there in your company?
- What is your highest level of qualification?
- Which state in the USA are you going to work? What do you think about the place?
- Have you experienced a situation without a job or salary?
- How long do you intend to work in the USA?
The questions discussed above are the basic ones that the officers ask. They can differ on the basis of the applicants, but will revolve around the same topics.
Breaking down the steps of USCIS H1B processing
The H1B is a temporary visa that enables a worker to stay temporarily in the United States. For those who have filed their petitions and are anxiously waiting for the verdict, here is some understanding of the happenings in the processing of H1B.
How USCIS handles the H1B processing?
1) Submission of the petition by the employers on USCIS Form I-129 along with H1B data collection and filing fee exemption supplement takes place. These petitions are then sent to either one of the USCIS Service Centers namely St. Albans, Vermont and Laguna Niguel, California.
2) Petitions are then checked and improperly filed petitions get rejected by the service center. The rejected applications are returned to the beneficiary along with any submitted fees.
The approved applications get stamped with a date of its date of arrival, and later the clerk collects all the supporting documents along with the original petition to create a paper file. This file is the official record of all activities connected with the given application.
3) Data entry clerks then take the required biographical data like name, date of birth, country of birth and enter it into a case tracking system- Computer-Linked Application Information Management System.
CLAIM is used to track and process naturalization applications. It then produces a unique receipt number for the file. The file is then sorted by potential cap-subject, then it is assigned to an adjudicator who makes the formal judgment on whether to approve or deny the petition.
4) Here comes a crucial stage where the beneficiary’s future depends on. The approval of the petition depends on the adequacy and accuracy of information.
If it warrants for an administrative investigation or further evidence, a request is sent back to the employer who must respond within a set period. Otherwise, a decision is made and updated on the CLAIM.
5) The last stage of the processing involves forwarding the documents and petition to either of the following-
USCIS record center in Harrisonburg, Virginia, for storage or to the Kentucky Consular Center in Williamsburg Kentucky, for consular processing.
It is a long yet just process. For all those waiting for their petitions, good luck. You can be a bit tension free as now you know how USCIS processes the H1B visas.
What to Do if You Lose the H1B Lottery?
Only a maximum of 85,000 H1B Visa applications was granted by the USCIS this year. The institution received over thrice the number of the cap and the lucky few were chosen through a lottery. It is evident that most of the requests for the visas have been rejected and many employers failed to get the foreign talent they have been looking forward to. It may land any company in dismay as it has been indicated by statistics and studies that America itself does not produce enough graduates to fill up the specialized H1B high skilled jobs. In such a scenario there are very few ways an employer may go. We present a few options which may become useful to a company if they are in dire need of resources.
Visas based in Nationality
The nationality of a worker may turn him eligible for another kind of immigration. There are the TN visas developed under the North American Free Trade Agreement. These are given to professionals from Canada and Mexico provided they work in jobs mentioned in the TN rules. Some citizens can make use of the H-1B1 Visas available for Chile and Singapore and E-3 visas for Australia. The regulations are similar to H1B visas and come with an annual cap – 1,400 Chile workers, 5,400 Singapore workers and 10,500 from Australia. The requests filed for these visas fall short of their caps every year.
Treaty Investor Visas
Foreign investors can come into the US under E-2 treaty investor visas to supervise and contribute to the invested company. Countries with which America has the treaty of commerce and navigation come under this visa system. It has some limitations like 50% ownership of the company by countries under the treaty.
Cap Exempted Categories
Employers and institutes connected with higher learning centers or nonprofit organizations are not under the H1B Visa cap. They can hire foreign talent without going for the lottery by USCIS. Also, an employee under H1B is not counted against the cap in the future. That means new employers can hire him on the same visa just by requesting a change in current employment status.
How can We Solve the H1B Visa Problems?
Many debates, views, and opinions range around the H1B Visa and how to reform the system around it. Many bills have been brought forward and the recent debates and interviews of the presidential candidates make one dizzy to think about the future of H1B Visas. The issues around H1B Visas range from replacing American workers for low-paying foreign counterparts to filing false documents to get approvals for workers without any existing positions. We have put together a summary of solutions from the views and opinions of various experts and professionals in the field of immigration to present a possible list of solutions to the problems related to H1B Visas.
To counter the issue of lower wages paid to foreign labors, a stringent rule of minimum wage enforced properly will protect the rights of native workers. A respondent in Quora even suggests removing the annual cap of 65,000 STEM workers and making it free for all when it comes to hiring foreign labor. But there has to be a rule to implement a wage of 10% to 20% more than native workers. This would draw an end to hiring cheap foreign labor, as no company would like to pay more unnecessarily.
Another hindrance to a free and fair H1B Visa policy is the non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement which some companies require native employees to sign while ending their contract. Laid-off employees are not able to protest in fear of losing their severance pay or being sued by their company. Such agreements should be made illegal so that employees are able to voice their protests and bring misuse of the system to the forefront. The need of a platform for lodging complaints without the fear of losing the visas for foreign workers also needs to be in place.
Frauds and scams around H1B Visas are not uncommon and instances of companies hiring foreign workers on false documents are there. It is not always possible for the USCIS to check and validate every application in reality. The authorities have to be more cautious and ensure all H1B Visa applications are valid and necessary. The laws around H1B Visa need to be implemented and enforced with an effective system of tracking the details of companies and employees that fall under the visas.
US Needs H1B Workers as it Lacks Local Talent: V Balakrishnan
All the buzz and controversies around the H1B visas and the many bills brought in to control the system have led companies depending on the visas apprehensive. Many US companies use H1B to hire workers from foreign countries. The system has faced much criticism and seen the introduction of many bills in the house. But even though the scenario looks discouraging, an interview with V Balakrishnan provides some relief. The Economic Times caught up with the former CFO of Infosys who shed some interesting ideas on the subject.
Balakrishnan was questioned about the deferring of all the bipartisan bills and their effect on the companies which use H1B visas. He said it was definitely a relief and would encourage the US companies. According to him, H1B visas have become more of a political issue than an economic one. The politicians have used it to fuel their campaigns and draw support from the people. But if someone interacts with the leading corporates, they will be compelled to think differently. In truth, the companies require and want more H1B visas to fill their job positions. America does not have adequate talent in the fields of high skilled areas and has to depend on countries like India, China, etc.
He also presented a thought-provoking opinion about the heightened activity and debate around the H1B. He thinks that we see a lot of buzz around the issue only in the year of the election. The remaining four years are quiet and one does not see much activity. All the turbulence created around H1B will not lead the US to make a hasty decision. He thinks it is an open society and will consider the economic impact which will be created by curbing the H1B visas. The US also cannot deny the lack of talent and it requires the support of other countries to survive and thrive. The current noise around H1B issues will be there for the short term, but it will not be permanent. He also felt that all companies prefer hiring locally as it saves them cost and makes recruiting simple. They only go for H1B visas when they cannot source the talent internally.
Different Types of H1B Employer-Employee Relationship
Establishing a suitable employer and employee relation and proving it to agencies like USCIS or DOL is necessary for hiring
The employer gets to exercise complete control of the beneficiary in this scenario. He works in a space owned by the employer and reports to them. The employer is in charge of providing space, resources, responsibilities, feedback and payment and benefits to the H1B worker. It is the traditional form of employment where one attends a single office or different branch of the same company during his tenure.
An example of this situation can be an accountant who is employed in a financial firm. The H1B beneficiary visits various firms to perform audits following the employer’s established practices. The employer may provide for food and conveyance at this period. When the accountant is not performing any duties, he must be assigned a central work location or office and receive his payments and benefits from his employee.
Long Term Off-Site Employment
An architect working in an architecture firm can be an example of permanent off-site employment. Generally an architect has to travel to off-site locations for construction work. They are housed at the location for the entire period of building the structure. The benefits and salaries are paid by the architecture firm for the entire time.
Long-Term Third-Party Placement
This situation can be explained by IT workers who are hired by the IT firms. Their solutions are used by third party companies who need the expertise and assistance in using and maintenance of the software. The H1B software developer hired by the sponsor has to be located to the third party company for performing his duties. He generally sends his reports to a superior of the sponsor company and receives wages and other incentives from them. He performs his tasks for the contract period between the sponsor and third party company.
How to File a Complaint against Your Employer for H1B Violations?
The H1B visas give
H1B Violations by Employer
There are few basic rules an employer has to follow while employing a H1B worker:
- They have to pay the entire visa filing fees (except few minor charges)
- You are eligible to full salary at prevailing wage rates laid down by LCA
- You have to be compensated for any unproductive time caused by employer’s responsibility
- If an employee is fired, the company has to pay the transportation cost back to his home country
There are several other rules that an employer has to follow so that the H1B employees are treated justly. But many times it has been found that companies are involved in H1B violations. They do not pay the required wages or discriminate the employee on grounds of being a foreigner. All such violations can be reported and complaints can be filed with the Department of Labor.
How to File a Complaint with the Department of Labor?
First, you need to download the WH-4 Form. It is the tool that will enable you to lodge your complaint with the authorities.
- Provide complete and accurate information as requested in the form.
- You can use an extra sheet to provide details if the space is not sufficient in the form. Refer with question numbers on the additional sheets you use.
- You can get in touch with the Department of Labor’s Local Wage and Hour Office for any assistance regarding the completion of the form.
The completed forms have to be directed to the Wage and Hour Division office which is responsible for the jurisdiction of your company. You can be contacted by one of the agency’s representatives for more information once they start to investigate your complaint. You should be able to provide some evidence like acts of violation, messages, emails, etc which proves the offence. If you think your situation is difficult, it is better to get in touch with an attorney who would be able to provide more help.
H1B Visa Cap Exceeds 85,000
USCIS, that is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services, have declared that this season, the petitions for the visas will be picked out randomly to see who meets the cap. For the fiscal year 2017, the cap for the H1B Visa exceeded a whopping 85,000. This Visa category for the skilled workers was a huge topic of discussion in the U.S. recently.
This issue of the H1B Visa is a raging topic these days on the political scene of the U.S. where the U.S. Republicans have talked about restricting these visas. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have argued for higher wages for the employees of H1B.
Now, USCIS has decided to randomly select petitions for a category in this special visa called the advanced degree exemption which alone garnered 20,000 of the 85,000 H1B Visas that exceeded the cap in the 2017 fiscal year. These visas have suddenly grown in demand and more and more workers want to petition for this visa every year. Now, even part-time workers are allowed to apply for the selection process of this visa and to file a petition that is a major reason for the cap in this H1B Visa exceeding 85,000.
An additional fee was also decided to be imposed on the Indian companies from this year as decided by the U.S. Congress which is another huge reason for the increase in the cost of each approved H1B Visa.
All in all, this news has created much excitement in the U.S. and worldwide that the U.S. accepted more than 2 lakh H1B applications this year.
The new rule of the random selection of the petitions under the H1B Visa category of the advanced degree redemption has created much hype. The rest 65,000 petitions are said to be the unselected petitions that will also become a part of the general cap under the 65,000 category.
All the unselected applicants will be refunded their filing fees so you essentially have nothing to lose by applying for one of these this season or perhaps the next of you have missed this one!
Will H1B Visas be Easier to Get in the Future?
The process of getting approved for an H1B Visa is quite difficult and most of the applications get rejected. There is a cap of maximum 65,000 foreign employees who can immigrate to the US and work for three years. For the past ten years, the number of applications filed by the companies has exceeded the cap. This year the number of filed applications was almost thrice the permissible limit. The successful candidates are then chosen via a random selection process which is conducted behind closed doors by the USCIS. The chances of landing up successfully with an H1B Visa are really less and thousands of applications get rejected each year. On this note, we present a summary of the opinions of various professionals in the field of immigration like attorneys, career counselors about the future of H1B Visas.
The future of H1B Visas is going to be impacted by the political scenario of the nation. The recent debates of the presidential candidates have created a confusing picture around the issue. Donald Trump has a mix of opinions from deporting all the illegal immigrants to making the H1B laws stringent. He also seeks to establish a minimum wage for the visa workers which will promote the native workforce. Hillary Clinton vows to secure the rights of the current immigrants and their families and plans for H1B Visa reform. A recent bill was brought in which seeks to limit the power of US companies hiring foreign workers. If passed it may make the process of getting H1B Visas more difficult.
Last year US doubled the charges of H1B Visas applications. This change was expected to reflect on the number of applications which on the contrary rose beyond anyone’s imagination for the current year. Some experts believed the raise in charges would lower the number of requests filed. This would better the chances of getting through the selection even if there was a lottery. But this does not hold ground anymore under existing circumstances.
There is some good news for foreigners seeking to work in the US and the companies looking to hire foreign talent. In a recent interview, Joseph M Pomper, Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy at Bangalore told reporters that the rules and regulations for the visas are controlled by the US Congress and politician’s comments do not have an effect on it. Moreover, the bills are also passed after a lot of scrutinies, so there is no need of getting worried.
What to Do if Your H1B Status is Revoked?
You need to have a valid visa status to continue working and living in the USA. Any time the visa is revoked or your H1B status gets invalid, you may be forced to leave the country and become an illegal immigrant. An H1B worker can hold on to his status by working and receiving pay stubs along with his wages.
How can Your H1B Status get Invalid?
According to the law, the USCIS must be notified when an H1B employee is terminated. The USCIS will start processing such a request to withdraw your H1B sponsorship when they receive notification from your employer. Otherwise, the agency takes into account the last pay stub date handed out by your employer.
What can I do if My H1B Status is Not Valid?
First, you must not panic. Our article is about helping you out when you get your H1B status. USCIS generally takes a few weeks’ time to process the request for dismissal of an H1B visa. This time can be utilized looking for other options or employment before your visa is revoked. Usually, severance packages are provided as monthly paychecks and the last date or receiving them determines your termination date. Hence you can get ample time to look for opportunities.
Tips to Assist You
- The first thing is to start looking for a new company that will agree to sponsor your visa. You can use your experience to find jobs that can provide you your much-required status.
- You can go for a tourist or the B2 visa status. It grants you 6 months’ stay in the USA after which you have to leave. The 6 months will be more than enough to get a new H1B sponsor.
- If your spouse is working in the USA on an H1B, you can apply for H$ or L2 visa. You can transfer is dependent on your spouse through any of the visas.
- Becoming a student at specific US universities can get you out of status and pave a better way. You can try the F1 visa for foreign students. You can reapply for H1B status and be eligible for cap-exempt after your course.