Home » Blog » How to apply for an H-1B visa in 2020
As a student aspiring to go to the US, you must have either wondered or worried about the H-1B visa. With the US Immigration Policy and reform constantly on the domestic political agenda and international headline news, a highly competent workforce, with job offers in US companies from all over the world, vie for securing a US visa. Therefore, as a student wanting to study in the US, you would be expected to have a working idea about the H-1B visa and the process to secure one.
What is H-1B Visa?
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa.
It is sometimes referred to as the “working visa” because it is the most widely used visa to work and stay in the US, temporarily.
The visa allows US companies to temporarily hire (up to 6 years) foreign talents to work in the US in specialty occupations requiring theoretical or technological expertise.
The US technological companies hire thousands of such talents every year, especially from India and China.
The visa is approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a federal agency mandated with the task.
The occupations on demand mostly relate to the STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Management — field and require highly specialized knowledge, skills, and competencies such as science, engineering, mathematics, architecture, physical sciences, medicine and health, business and accounting. The H-1B Specialty Occupations webpage of the USCIS gives more information regarding this.
A minimum of a (US equivalent) of 4-year bachelor’s degree.
In case of a 3-year bachelor’s degree, you need to have three years of work experience in an allied field.
You should be adequately qualified to work in the role for which you are applying for the visa.
Necessary professional certificate/license/accreditation if you are applying for a professional role such as doctor, dentist, lawyer, CPA, or nurse
Some Quick Facts about the H-1B Visa
Although petitions for the visa, understandably, continue to rise every year, the limit on the number of H-1B allowed each fiscal year is fixed. This is termed as H-1B Cap. Currently, the Cap is 65,000, and an additional 20,000 issued to those having a U.S. Master’s or a higher qualification, which is called the Master’s Cap. For more information, please visit the USCIS website.
Certain categories of employers including U.S. institutions of higher education, university-affiliated non-profit entities, and non-profit or governmental research organizations are not subject to the cap.
Visa petitions are served on a “first-come-first-served” basis.
Of late, the USCIS has instituted a “lottery” system for accepting petitions because more than 65,000 regular H-1Bs were filed on the first day of filing.
H-1B visa is valid for 3 years and can be further extended for a maximum of another 3 years.
The fiscal year begins on October 1 and ends with September 30 of the following year.
The USCIS has begun accepting H-1B petition since April 1, 2019, for the federal fiscal year 2020 (FY2020).
H-1B Application Process
The H-1B application is not a candidate-directed process. Rather it is an employer-directed process. So if you are H-1B eligible, your H-1B application starts with finding a job in the US and who is willing to sponsor your H-1B visa. The US employer submits a petition to the USCIS for approval of the H-1B visa for you (or for that matter, one of its employees from overseas).
Here is what happens.
What happens before the visa interview?
The Visa Stone Wall
You will get to hear stories and anecdotes about H-1B visa denial, which are facts and parts of the H-1B visa process. Visas are indeed denied. However, visa denial might not be always the end of the road for H-1B visa seekers. While denying a visa, the USCIS cites definite reasons for such denial. You will do good by closely going through the reasons cited and try to resolve them if you plan to apply for a second time. It is not uncommon to be denied a visa for procedural inadequacy such as incomplete or incorrect documentation.
Yet another reason for visa denial is the annual limit of application for a visa or the Visa Cap having been reached. According to one estimate, 50% of the eligible applicants do not get an H-IB visa because of the Cap. In such instances, you will have no other alternative than to wait for the next year to apply again.
If you are offered a job offer in the US, your prospective employer will be asking you to submit these documents (and any others that the company might specify). With a bit of luck, you might be selected for awarding the H-1B visa.
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