One can migrate to a foreign country temporarily for employment only if he holds a work visa. The host country will grant work visas to outsiders according to its domestic labor force requirements. Developed countries mostly grant work visas to skilled professionals only and the same applies to the USA as well. Here are some of the key facts you need to know about H1-B work visa offered by the USA-
1. A person seeking an H1-B visa cannot apply for it himself. The employer who is wishing to recruit him must file an H1-B petition to USCIS on his behalf. Once granted, the H1-B visa holder is entitled to work in the USA temporarily.
2. According to the guidelines issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration service, a person is qualified to apply for H-1B visa only if he holds at least a Bachelor’s degree.
3. The Senate decides the number of H-1B visas granted every year. Nearly every year 1/3rd of total H1-B visas were reserved for foreign nationals who are pursuing their studies in the USA.
4. A person holding an H-1B visa cannot stay in the USA for more than 6 years and needs to apply for an extension. If you are absent in the USA during those 6 years you can make a claim for its extension.
5. An H-1B visa holder cannot work for two companies simultaneously. To do so, the employer of other company to need to apply for an H-1B petition on his behalf.
Lesser Known Facts About the H-1B Visa
Every year, millions of people worldwide aspire to get an H-1B visa to fulfil their great American dream. There is several conditions to be satisfied to apply for an H-1B visa, and are well-versed among the aspirants of H-1B visa. However, there are some unknown and less popular facts among the first time H-1B visa applicants and even for those who are applying for its extension-
1. Multiple Jobs-
This is something that is very little known among the seekers of an H-1B visa. The United States Citizenship and immigration service allow an H-1B visa holder to work for two different companies simultaneously. For this, the second company’s employer, must apply for an H-1B visa petition on behalf of the foreigner.
2. Two lotteries for a single petition-
Foreign workers who hold a master’s degree had more probability of attaining an H-1B visa than their bachelor degree holder counterparts. Every year two lotteries will be taking place to issuing H-1B visas, first for Master Degree holders and the second one for master degree holders and bachelor degree holders. If a person in the first lottery is not selected, their application will be transferred to the second lottery, increasing his chances of getting an H-1B visa granted.
3. Do not worry if you are fired-
H-1B visa holders were not guaranteed any immunity from getting fired. However one need not worry if he finds another job. His H-1B visa will not be terminated upon his firing, and a new sponsor can hire him and apply for an H-1B visa petition for him. This application will be given assent directly but doesn’t enter into a pool of applications destined for the lottery.
Exceptions to the Duration of Stay
The H1B visa programme is a specialised immigration scheme for people belonging to speciality occupations.
The application process, though simple, can get a little tricky if you’re not up to date with the exemptions, caps, and the filing procedures. Your employers or visa sponsors will file the visa petition on your behalf, and you need to provide all the necessary documents with additional copies if necessary. The employers will file the various forms and also submit a labour condition application along with your credentials and evidence of qualification.
The H1B visa has a validity period of a total of six years, which includes a 3-year duration in total along with a 3 year extension period. However, there are a few exceptions to this duration. Normally, the exceptions fall into 2 categories:
- If you have filed for a Form I-140 before completion of the 5th year of your visa duration, or if you have filed for a labour certification while your Form I-485 is still under processing, you shall be allowed a period of extension in 1 year increments until your petition for permanent residency is approved, or a consensus regarding the same is reached.
- If you applied for a Form I-140 but your final green card is unable to get processed, you get to have another 3-year extension for your H1B visa as your form I-485 has not been approved yet. This happens when your priority date does not match with the permanent residency application. This exception is provided under the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC-21) under American Competitiveness.
The H1B Visa is Equally Helpful for Occupations other than Engineering
The H1B visa program is a specialized employer-sponsored visa scheme that caters to people having a bachelor’s degree in the following disciplines:
Biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts.
Although the lion’s share of H1B visas goes to IT professionals and engineers due to the high concentration of engineering companies in the US, it is equally beneficial for people of other specialty occupations because the US is currently going through a skill scarcity. And the IT sector is currently under the scanner due to various companies being accused of hiring cheaper labor and overlooking the American citizens for their employment drives.
Biotechnology has risen monumentally with big firms like Monsanto constantly looking out for fresh talent for their initiatives. Healthcare is another specialty occupation that is on the rise due to the current lifestyle disorders and health concerns and the increased overload on hospital staff and doctors for catering to the patients. Moreover, law and architecture have always been sought-after professions in the US, and the firms are always accepting new talents with fresher ideas.
With the rise in multinational corporations and the existing demand for STEM visa holders, even business professionals and Ph.D. holders can benefit significantly because the sectors of education, corporate houses as well as research labs are looking for fresh talent to kick start their ventures. And as far as arts are concerned, the more varied the nationalities, the more vibrant the art sector is, and so artists will always be high on demand in the American markets.
Are There Any Exceptions Made For an H-1B Visa?
There are no exceptions, as such, made for the eligibility of an H1B visa applicant. However, they are subject to certain cap exemptions based on their employers and their work profile. There are two types of H1B cap-exempt petitions:
1. Petitions filed on behalf of candidates who are H-1B cap-exempt.
2.Petitions filed by H-1B cap-exempt employers.
The following people are considered cap-exempt from the H1B visa petitions.
- Candidates who have previously been counted against the H1B cap in their previous tenure of holding the visa. They will continue to be exempt in their second term. This will extend the stay of the H1B worker, create changes in the conditions for employing the existing H1B employees, permit for a change in employer by the H1B worker and also allow H1B visa holders to work for two positions while applying for a second visa.
- Candidates who were previously given an H1B visa but are currently based outside the US.
- STEM students undergoing Optional Practical Training while on an F1 visa.
- International students in a US-based university holding an F1 visa and having a degree in Science, Technology Engineering, and Management qualify for a 17 month STEM extension after completing their OPT for 29 months. If these students have failed to file a petition before the reaching of the cap, they can apply for a 17 month STEM extension, which permits them to stay in the US and work for a US-based company until the commencement of the next season for filing fresh H1B visa applications.
Advantages of an H-1B Visa
The H1B visa program is the most lucrative and convenient visa option for citizens worldwide wanting to come to the US to make something out of their lives. It is systematic, easily renewable, and has a dual intent as well. Here are a few of the advantages of the H1B visa.
Unlimited visa applications
You can have limitless visa applications in your lifetime.
You can apply for a lawful permanent residency through a Green card when you’re holding an H1B visa, which might not be possible with other short-duration work visas.
Compensation in case of early job termination
If you lose your job, you can either apply for a change of status or your employer shall pay for your travel expenses in case you need to travel home when your job has been terminated before the stipulated time. Hence, employee rights are guaranteed. You can also change your employer and look for a new job, but you need to apply for a change of status first.
No Change in Visa Status
When you apply for a change of status, your visa duration will stay the same as before, and it will expire at the same time. You are allowed to stay in the country for that period no matter how many employers you decide to change during your stay here. If you were accorded an H1B dependent, i.e., an H4 status and later applied for H1B status, your duration of stay would be counted six years from the day you changed to H1B.
You can stay with your family.
Your spouse and kids who need to be under 21 years of age can stay with you as H4 dependents for as long as you stay here. Your spouse can also get a provisional work permit when they stay here.
Your kids can study here.
An H1B holder’s spouse and kids are allowed to pursue an education in the US based on their dependent status and are permitted to attend school.
Comfortable work hours
You get to decide your work hours, and the work hours are relatively liberal. Your average work hours per week will be 40, but you can work 20 hours a week and also pick up part-time jobs- there’s no restriction on that. As long as you fulfill all the required conditions for an H1B visa holder, you can decide how many hours to work for your job.