The H1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa category for temporary workers. For such a visa, an employer must offer a job and apply for your H1B visa petition with the US Immigration Department. This approved petition is a work permit which allows you to obtain a visa stamp and work in the U.S. for that employer.

Eligibility

The H1B visa is issued for a specialty occupation, requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and requires the visa holder to have at least a Bachelors degree or its equivalent.

Total Quota:

  • Based on the H1B Quota numbers of previous years, the H1B Cap for the fiscal year 2010 is expected to be 65,000. Note: The H1B quota has not been filled for 2010. The filing started on April 1, 2009. As of September 25, 2009, approximately 46,700 H1B cap-subject petitions and approximately 20,000 petitions qualifying for the advanced degree cap exemption were filed with the USCIS.
  • This has been the first time in the history of H1B visa petitions. Last year the quota of 65,000 was filled within days and a lottery system was followed to deal with the high number of applications.
  • According to news reports, the USCIS will continue to accept petitions until a sufficient number of H1B petitions have been received to reach the quota limits.
  • There is an additional 20,000 quota for qualified people who have completed a Masters degree from USA. This quota is independent and additional to general 65,000 quota.

What is the USCIS Fee for filing for H1B Petition?

The filing fee for H1 B petition is paid by the employer/H1 Sponsor. The fee ranges from $1570 to $2320. Please look at the table below for an accurate breakup:

Fee components

For employers with 1 to 25 full time equivalent employees

For employers with 26 or more full time equivalent employees

Base Fee

$320

$320

American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) fee:

$750

$1500

$1070

$1820

Fraud Fee

$500

$500

Total

$1570

$2320

Premium Processing Fee

$1000 (optional)

$1000 (optional)


You may need to incur additional lawyer's fee:

Limit of H1B visa
Total stay is limited to 6 years. Initial approval is for 3 years, which can be extended for increment of up to 3 years.

H1B- Re-Stamping
A new stamping can be done in any other country at any American consulate, based on the H1B extension approval. More

Multiple Employers
H1B aliens may work for more than one U.S. employer, but must have a Form I-129 petition approved by each employer.

Travel
H1B visa can be a multiple entry visa, which allows a person to travel in and out of USA for any number of times, within the specified visa validity period.

Work
H1B aliens may only work for the petitioning U.S. employer, and employer may place the H1B worker on the work site of another employer.

Vacation
An H1B alien can go on vacations, sick/maternity/paternity leave or on strike.
There is no issue as long as alien is associated with the employer.

Family Status
The spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of H1B professionals are allowed to stay in the United States under the H4 category for the same duration as the H1B status. More

Permanent Residence (Green Card)
An H1B holder is eligible to seek permanent residency to USA. More

Changing Employer?
H1B can be transferred to a new employer.
You can also start working for new employer upon the receipt of H1 transfer case.

Investments/Finance

  • H1B visa holder can buy or sell real estate or any other property in USA.
  • H1B visa holder can purchase lottery tickets
  • H1B visa holder can invest in the stock market as well.

Should the H1B holder be working at all times?

As long as the employer/employee relationship exists, an H1B holder is still in status. An H1B alien may work in full or part-time employment and continue to be in status. An H1B alien may

  • apply for vacation
  • apply for sick/maternity/paternity leave
  • go on strike
  • or otherwise be inactive without affecting his or her status

A lot depends on the work relationship of the visa holder. Just like other employees, the H1 B visa holder can enjoy all the benefits of employment.

Change of circumstances

So long as things are smooth and steady, there is no need to worry. However, every now and then, the H1B visa holder thinks: what next? or what should I do if circumstances change?

  • As long as the alien continues to provide H1B services for a U.S. employer, most changes will not have any significant effect on his visa status. An alien may change employers without affecting his H1 B status. However, the future H1B employer must file a new Form I-129 petition for the alien before he or she begins working for him.
  • The merger or sale of an H1B employer's business will not affect the alien's status in many instances. However, if there is a change in the work performed by the visa holder other than that stated in the law, there may be a violation. For example, after the H1 B employer's sale of business, if the visa holder works in a capacity other than the specialty occupation petitioned for, it is certainly a status violation.