The H1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for temporary workers. For this visa, an employer must offer a job in the US 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:

  • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services sets a limit on how many H1B visas are issued each year.
  • These numbers can change as per regulations of the US government. Historically, the cap is placed at 65,000.
  • An additional 20, 000 H1B visas are issued for qualified people who have completed a Masters degree from USA. This quota is independent and additional to general 65,000 quota.
  • A deadline is placed in each calendar year within which employers are expected to have filed for their H1B visa petitions meant for the next financial year.
  • After this date petitions are not accepted.
  • Due to a limited capacity of H1B visas issued, there is usually a rush and the cap is met within a few days of the deadline.
  • Should the cap remain unmet, USCIS continues to accept applications until that number is met.

What is the USCIS Fee for filing for H1B Petition?

The filing fee for H1B petition is paid by the employer, otherwise called the /H1B Sponsor. The fee ranges from $1570 to $2320. The tables below gives 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

$325

$325

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

$750

$1500

Public Law Fee

$4,000

$4,000

Fraud Fee

$500

$500

Total

$1570

$2320

Premium Processing Fee

$1,225 (optional)

$1,225 (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 in an increment of up to 3 years.

H1B- Re-Stamping
A new stamping can be done at any American consulate in any other country, other than your home country provided the applicant has received the H1B extension approval. More

Multiple Employers
H1B visa holders may work for more than one U.S. employer, but must have a Form I-129 petition approved by each employer. Traditionally, these are rarely issued.

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 as part of the company contract. Working for an employer that hasn’t sponsored the H1B visa petition is considered illegal.

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 a dependent category called the H4 visa for the same duration as the H1B status. More

Permanent Residence (Green Card)
An H1B holder is eligible to seek permanent residency to USA. He has to apply for a change of status through the Form I-485. More

Changing Employer?
H1B visa 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 H1B visa holder can enjoy all the benefits of employment.

Change of circumstances

As long as things are smooth and steady, there are no interruptions to the visa holder’s status. However, personal circumstances change every now and then.

  • 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 H1B status. However, any prospective 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 H1B 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.