H1B Visa Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about H1 Visa

Applying for H1B visa may seem like a complicated process, but the following H1B visa FAQs provide answers to your top H1B visa questions. Read on to learn more about the H1B visa process.

What is H1B?

The H1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that allows foreign nationals to stay and work in the United States temporarily. An H1B visa petition may be filed for an alien to work in the US to perform services in a specialty occupation.

What are the H1B qualifications?

In order to qualify for a job offer from a US employer who will sponsor your H1B petition, you should:

  • Have a US Bachelor's degree or higher in the area of your specialty occupation from an accredited institution;
  • Have an equivalent foreign degree; or
  • Have experience through positions held in your specialty occupation equivalent to the completion of such degree.

Who can file H1B petition?

You cannot file your own H1 visa petition. Only your prospective employer who has given you a job offer may file your H1B petition on your behalf. If your case is approved, your employer will receive Form I-797 Notice of Action and forward it to you.

Can an H1B visa petition be filed while I am working in India?

Yes. A US employer may offer you a job while you are still working with a company in India. You do not need to be present in the US at the time when your prospective US employer files your H1B petition.

Why is H1B visa called a "dual intent" visa?

A dual intent visa is one of the few nonimmigrant visa categories in which a foreign national may apply for and obtain with the intent of later applying for US permanent residency. With a dual intent visa, the individual is allowed to apply for a green card. Since H1B visa is a dual intent visa, H1B holders may apply for green card if eligible.

What is the H1B process like?

The process of applying for H1B includes the following steps.

  • Obtain a job offer from a US employer.
  • H1B petitioning employer files Labor Condition Application (LCA).
  • Petitioning employer files Form I-129.
  • USCIS selects H1B petitions in H1B lottery until the H1B cap has been met.

Does an approved H1B petition guarantee admission to the US?

No. The USCIS' approval of your H1B petition does not automatically grant you admission to the US on H1B status. You will have to attend an interview at a US Consulate near you to get your H1B visa stamped. The Consular Officer will verify your education background, work experience, details of your US employment, and other relevant information, and will issue your H1B visa only when he finds all of the information you provide to be genuine and as stated in your petition.

How many H1 visas can a person have?

There is no limit to the number of H1 visas a person may have. Multiple companies may file for H1B visa for the same employee.

What is H1 approval and what is a visa?

H1 approval is the green paper Form I-797. It is a approval for you to work legally for the company stated on this form. A person can have multiple H1 approval from various companies, but at a time visa can be stamped for any one company only. A visa is a permit to enter a foreign country for a specific time limit.

If H1B Visa is stamped for company A, can a person work for company B?

Legally, no, unless the individual has a H1 approved petition approved for company B.

Can I bring my spouse with me? If so, can they study and work in the US?

Yes, your spouse and dependents may accompany you to the US on an H4 dependent visa. H4 dependents may study and apply for employment authorization document (EAD) to work in the US.

Can my H1B visa be transferred to another company?

Yes. In order to be eligible for H1B transfer, the H1B worker generally must:

  • Be physically present in US; and
  • Have I-94 form and the last 2 months' pay stubs from Company A.

H1B transfers are not affected by the H1B cap. All you need is Company B to take care of all the paperwork for your H1B visa transfer. You do need not permission from Company A for a visa transfer. For more information, visit H1B Transfer.

How long one can stay in USA on H1B visa?

The H1B visa duration is limited to 6 years. If required to come again on H1B visa, then one has to stay outside USA, for at least one year, before re-entering.You may be eligible for extension beyond 6 yrs if your green card process and your labor is pending for more then 365 days or you have applied for 485/AOS.

Are H1B workers required to pay taxes in the US?

Yes, the US has very strict tax laws, and H1 visa holders must pay state and federal taxes. Since H1B visa holders are eligible for Social Security benefits, they must pay Medicare and Social Security taxes as well.

Is there a way to expedite H1B petition processing?

Yes, your employer may file your H1 petition under premium processing for an additional fee. If your employer chooses premium processing for your H1B petition, USCIS will process the petition in 15 calendar days. For more information, read our H1B Premium Processing FAQs.

Can I start my own company while on H1B visa status?

Yes, but you cannot form an S-Corporation. To start an S-Corporation, you must be a US citizen. There are multiple ways of starting your own company, but one of the most effective ways is by incorporating "Limited Liability Company" ( LLC ). You can find companies online that can do this. They may charge you around $150 to 200, and the procedure may take few days. LLC can be a "Partnership Firm" or the liability protection as a "Incorporated Company." You can be the Chairman or Director of the Board, but you can't work for it, unless you have an H1 visa issued from that company. But, you can always hire a CEO for the company, who has a work permit (Green Card or Citizen).

For details about applying for H1B visa or information about the H1B interview, visit our H1B Visa Guide for complete information about H1B work visa.