For foreign-born professionals seeking to work in the United States for an extended period of time, the H-1B visa is one of the most pursued categories of entry into the US. Those possessing technical or theoretical knowledge in specialized fields like IT and medicine are most likely to qualify for an H-1B visa, as it is reserved for those who can demonstrate professional level job skills.
H-1B Visa Requirements
While proving professional-level specialized skill is crucial to the success of an H-1B petition, possessing a bachelor’s degree is not necessarily a requirement. If an applicant can demonstrate degree equivalence through work experience or other qualifications, the petition may still qualify. Additionally, one important point to note is that an employee cannot apply for an H-1B petition themselves; rather, the employer must petition on behalf of the employee for entrance into the United States to work.
While H-1Bs are considered longer-term employment options than some other options, most workers will not be approved for a lengthy time period. The visa is typically initially granted for three years, and extension may be filed for a maximum of six years. However, applicants should remember that because H-1Bs are subject to a cap, even a sufficiently compiled application may not result in a visa. Current immigration laws limit the number of H-1Bs to 85,000 new visas each fiscal year, and because this is one of the most popular visa categories, the odds of being selected in the visa lottery are lower than many other visa options.
H-1B employment visas differ from similar categories like L visas, even though both require the employer to petition on behalf of the employee. While L visas are tied to the specific employer, foreign workers who enter the United States via an H-1B visa are not restricted to a particular employer; they may change employers if that suits their goals, as long as the requirements of the visa, like holding a professional job position, continue to be met.
This means that occasionally, an employee may need to engage in a visa transfer, which transfers the H-1B visa to a new petitioning employer—that is, the worker’s new employer. Employees may not begin work whenever they wish; rather, the petition will specify a date on which the employee may start work at the new company. The employer may need to provide a letter detailing the arrangement, and the visa holder will likely need to provide pay stubs as proof of their position and employment.
Requests for Evidence
Requests for evidence, often referred to by the shorthand “RFE,” are a common stopping point for H-1B applications. RFEs do not mean that an application has been denied. Instead, receiving an RFE simply indicates that the application may be missing crucial information that must be provided before the reviewer can make a decision on the petition.
RFEs on H-1B visa petitions are relatively common, and some reasons are more frequent than others. Issues surrounding level 1 wages and applicants petitioning as part of computer occupations are more likely to generate a request for evidence. Level 1 wages are associated with entry-level petitions, and justifying why a highly specialized professional is receiving entry-level wages can generate a request for evidence.
Apply For An H-1B Visa Today
Appropriately responding to RFEs and compiling a satisfactory petition can be challenging for H-1Bs, especially because workers cannot apply on their own. Reach out to The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge to discuss your situation and start off your H-1B application on the right foot by calling 703.273.5500 or request a consultation online.