What is H1B program?

The H1B visa is a work permit issued to a temporary non-immigrant in the United States. According to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), a temporary worker is an individual seeking to enter the United States temporarily for a specific purpose. Non immigrants enter the United States for a temporary period of time, and once in the United States, are restricted to the activity or reason for which their nonimmigrant visa was issued. The visa allows the visa holder to live and work temporarily in the U.S.

Another interpretation of the H1B visa is presented here. The 'H1B' visa program is a temporary workers visa in "specialty occupations." A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or the equivalent in the specific specialty (e.g., engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, computer sciences, medicine and health care, education, biotechnology, business studies, etc.)

Education requirements

To qualify for the H1B visa category, the prospective H1B employee must

  • Hold a U.S. bachelor's or higher degree, or the equivalent. The person must hold a U.S. equivalent 4 years bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited college or university.
  • If the foreign degree is 3 years bachelor's degree, a 3 years work experience in same or similar field /occupation can be considered to one year of additional education.
  • The individual must be fully qualified to lawfully perform the duties of the position offered. For example, in occupations that require a licensure or professional credentials (such as doctor, dentist, attorney, CPA, architect, registered nurse), the individual must already hold such qualification before the H1B visa petition can be filed.

Jobs that qualify for the H1B visa program

What jobs are classified as Specialty Occupation? What Jobs /occupation qualify for the H1B visa? There are several areas and categories which may qualify for specialty occupation such as

  • Engineers
  • Doctors/Physicians
  • Managers
  • Financial Manager
  • Analyst
  • Business Managers
  • Sales Managers
  • Art
  • Entertainment
  • Lawyers
  • CPA
  • Architect
  • Health Care professionals
  • Technicians
  • Others

Quota for H1 visa

  • Currently H1B Total Quota is 65000 for all the qualified people worldwide. The USCIS accepts new H1B petitions from April every year.
  • There is an additional 20,000 quota for qualified people who have completed a Masters degree from USA. This quota is independent of the general quota of 65,000.

How to obtain the H1B visa?

Getting the H1B visa is like the art of matchmaking. You have to be a right fit for a right job. The process is similar to finding the right spouse for you. Obtaining an H1B visa involves the following steps:

  • Find an employer in USA who can offer you a job.
  • Once you qualify for the job, your future employer files H1B petition for you with govt. authorities the Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Once the petition is approved, you are eligible to enter US to work and live on H1 visa.

While the above list appears simple, finding a US based employer/company that requires your skills for a job and is willing to sponsor the H1 visa is most critical part of this process. Not all U.S. companies sponsor the H1 B visa. They would rather hire someone 'locally' rather than go through all the formalities of filing visas. This means that the number of companies that hire foreign workers on the H1B visa is very less. At the same time, there are many highly skilled jobs that require hiring individuals with a unique skill set.

This means that obtaining the H1B visa is a matter of intelligent job hunting and marketing your skills to potential employers. Once you are eligible for the job and the employer considers you to be a perfect match, filing the petition is a matter of going through the circle of procedures.