FAQ Page on H1-B Visas
What is the H1-B visa?
The H1-B visa is available for nonimmigrant employees with specialized skills looking to enter the U.S. for a specific period.
As of 2023, the number of visas offered was capped at 65,000 per year unless you have a master's degree or higher from a U.S.-based college or university, in which case, an additional 20,000 visas are available.
Who can apply for an H1-B visa?
To qualify for an H1-B visa, you will need:
- A valid job offer from a U.S. employer,
- The job offer is for a role that requires specialty knowledge,
- Proof of a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience in that field, and
- Proof that your employer first searched for a qualified U.S. applicant but was unsuccessful.
Who is exempt from the H1-B visa cap?
If your employment falls under one of the categories below, then you do not have to worry about the H1-B visa cap and can apply at any time for your visa:
- Employees of institutions of higher education.
- Employees of non-profits that are connected to an institution of higher education.
- Employees of government research organizations.
How do I apply for an H1-B visa?
Before entering the U.S. under an H1-B visa, you must register with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office and be chosen to apply. This is commonly referred to as “the lottery.”
To enter the lottery, you will need to:
- Create an account with USCIS,
- Pay a registration fee, and
- Fill out basic information about yourself and the company sponsoring you.
At the end of the registration period, USCIS will determine who is eligible to apply for the H1-B visa. The registration period for the lottery only runs for 14 days each year. If you fail to register during that time, you will not be able to apply for an H1-B visa that year.
Once you've been selected to apply for the H1-B visa, your employer must file the Labor Condition Application (LCA) on your behalf to the Department of Labor (DOL) for certification. After the DOL certifies the LCA, your employer must complete the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker form (I-129). They will then file it, and the certified LCA, with the USCIS, along with any fees and additional documents required. (Examples of additional documents include training certificates, confirmation of employment letter, and your resume.)
What happens once your I-129 form is approved?
If you are outside of the U.S. when your I-129 form is approved, you will have to apply for consular processing. But, if you are in the U.S. on a different visa when the I-129 form is approved, you need only wait until your H1-B visa status becomes active. You will then be allowed to start working for your employer.
How do I apply for consular processing?
To apply for consular processing, you must complete a Form DS-160, pay the application fee, and schedule an interview at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
At the interview, you will need to present:
- Your passport (it must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you intend to enter the U.S.);
- A physical copy of your Form DS-160 confirmation page;
- A copy of your approved I-129 form and I-797 approval;
- Receipts for your application fees;
- A passport-sized photo that meets the U.S. State Department's requirements.
What is the processing time for an H1-B visa?
Processing times vary. Generally, it takes between 4 and 8 months to process unless you pay for expedited processing (around $2500). If you elect to do expedited processing, it will take about 15 days to process the application once it is received.
How much does the H1-B visa cost?
To register for the H1-B visa lottery, you must pay a $10 fee. If you are selected from the lottery to apply for the visa, you must pay $460 to file the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker Form (I-129).
There are other costs to consider, though they vary based on the company's size, whether the application must be expedited, and if the applicant is changing employers.
Why do I need an attorney to help with my H1-B visa application?
The H1-B process may seem straightforward, but it can actually be quite difficult to navigate. Working with an attorney is the best way to ensure you not only know what you're doing, but that you know which documents to bring, who needs to fill out what, and how to proceed if you are selected from the lottery.
What is Malik Law's success rate with H1-B visas?
Our attorneys have helped countless individuals navigate the H1-B application process. From filing your first petition, to winning the lottery, to getting approval on your application, it can feel like a lifetime has passed. At Malik Law, we have helped hundreds of individuals successfully apply for the H1-B visa.
Contact the H1-B Attorneys at Malik Law LLC Today
As an immigrant herself, Richa Malik understands the visa process better than anyone else. Don't put your trust in someone else's hands. Call 206-771-6207 or contact us online today for help with your H1-B visa application.