Requirements For An H-1B Visa

Todd Eric Gallinger

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Immigration Attorney

Contributor Level 13

Posted about 5 years ago. 2 helpful votes



Who is eligible?

In order to apply for a H-1B visa, you must fulfill several requirements: * You must be fully licensed to practice in the occupation you wish to hold in the United States; * You must have completed the degree required for the occupation or possess experience in the specialty equivalent to the completion of such a degree (experience usually equates to ten to twelve years in any given profession); and * You must have recognition of your expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions relating to the specialty.


How do you apply?

If you plan to work in the United States under an H-1B visa, you may not file for the visa yourself-your U.S. employer must file the application for you. In order to gain a H-1B visa for you, your employer must file: * A Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor; and * USCIS Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with H supplemental and supporting documentation, and the approved LCA with the USCIS.


How long is it valid?

Your initial H-1B visa may be granted for up to three years. It may then be extended, in the first instance for up to two further years, and eventually for one further year, to a maximum of six years. If you wish to remain in the U.S. for more than six years, you ma, while still in the U.S. on an H-1B visa, apply for permanent residence. If you do not gain permanent residence, when the six year period runs out, you must live outside the U.S. for at least one year before an application is made for you to enter on


How much does it cost?

The normal cost for filing a visa application is $13100. However, the United States follows a strict "reciprocity" system, meaning that if your native country charges additional fees to U.S. citizens applying for visas, the United States will, in turn, charge you that same amount. The USCIS filing fee is currently US$ 190, which must be paid by the sponsoring employer. In addition to the filing fee, the USCIS imposes a Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of US$ 500. For H1B applications, the USCIS also imposes a American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) fee of US$ 1,500 if the petitioner employs more than 25 full-time equivalent employees, including any affiliate or subsidiary, or US$ 750 if the petitioner employs 25 or less full-time equivalent employees. Finally, consular visa processing usually involves a charge of approximately $105 in local currency. Prevailing Wage Determinations and Labor Condition Applications are free of government charges.


How long will it take?

USCIS begins accepting applications for the new fiscal year, which begins in October, in April (i.e., USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2010 (FY 2010) cap on April 1, 2009). It usually takes about ninety days to process an application for a H-1B visa. It is important to file your application as early as possible, as once the government quota is met, no more applications will be accepted.

Additional Resources

US Citizenship and Immigration Services

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