Everything you need to know about the H1-B visa

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Apr 02, 2018, 07:01 PM IST

File Photo. Photograph:(Zee News Network)

The H1-B visa applications for the year 2018-19 began on April 2, which have now been called the toughest application process yet. 

Zero tolerance

The Trump administration that launched the 'Buy American and Hire American' Executive Order will be scrutinising every application minutely before issuing the most sought-after work visa.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is the federal agency responsible to process the visas, has indicated that there will be zero tolerance for even minor errors. 

Earlier in March, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services had announced that it would temporarily suspend the premium processing for the H-1B visa. The Donald Trump administration recently announced a new measure, making the approval of H-1B visa tougher. 

Any company will have to make one more clarification to prove that its H-1B employee at a third-party worksite has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in a speciality occupation. 

An in-house immigration lawyer at an information technology company says: “Under the US federal law, a single company cannot file multiple H-1B visa applications for the same visa seeker. When a company files an H-1B visa application, another related or affiliated company cannot do so unless there exist two separate job opportunities. These jobs must be clearly distinguishable and supported by additional evidence such as letters from different end clients or for different projects.”

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows the US companies to employ foreign workers in jobs that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on this visa to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries such as India and China. The H1-B visa has an annual limit of 65,000 each financial year as mandated by the US Congress, their house of parliament.

Spouse applications

Spouses of the H1-B visa holders get the H4 visa currently, which doesn’t allow them to work or run a business until they obtain an employment authorisation document (EAD).

However, not all dependent spouses of the H1-B visa holders are eligible to apply for an EAD. This route is available only to the H1-B visa recipients on track for a Green Card. Hence, many foreign professionals are exploring the option of becoming a permanent resident of the US.


Application limit

The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 visas each year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master's degree or higher are exempted from the cap.

USCIS said that it will reject H-1B petitions requesting an earlier employment start date or a start date of 'As Soon As Possible' or 'ASAP'.

Immigration experts say that the DHS (the United States Department of Homeland Security) handles 30,000-odd applications for employment authorisation each year, in addition to the requests for renewal. The Trump administration’s draft proposal in June will be the first step towards ending the mechanism of granting this authorisation.

Amandeep Kaur, a software professional from Chandigarh, who works in Accenture, says: “It sure is good news for those working in the US. Ever since the likelihood of sending families back came into limelight, professionals were in a dilemma about going to the United States. And they were not only IT professionals but also many others who use the H-1B visa.”

Successful applications

If the applicant is seeking an extension of stay or change of status, he or she should include evidence to establish that the beneficiary will maintain a valid non-immigrant status through the employment start date being requested, USCIS said in its filing tips.

When the successful applicant appears before the American diplomatic missions, embassies and consulates for a formal visa interview and stamping on their passport, they would have to be ready with details of the social media profile, emails and phone numbers of the last five years.

Ahead of the H-1B visa filing process, USCIS said this work visa should help US companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country.