The H1B Visa is an Employment based non immigrant visa that allows qualified foreign nationals to work temporarily in the United States. The main purpose of the US government to introduce this program is to provide feasibility for the US companies to fill up their highly skilled positions with foreigners if the US citizens are not available. There is a limit (also knows as Cap) on the number of H1B visas issued every year. Currently, US law limits to 85,000 visas for each fiscal year, out of which 20,000 visas are exempt to professionals who holds master’s or higher degree from US universities. Typically, one can be on H1B status for a maximum of six years. However, individual can extend beyond six years if he/she is under the process of obtaining Employment based Green Card.

Eligibility:

To be eligible for H1B visa, all foreign professionals must meet the minimum requirements

Education: Bachelor’s degree or higher

OR

Work: 12 years of work experience (considers 3 years of work experience as one year of university level education)

Along with the qualifications, you should have a job offer from a US employer and employer must be willing to pay salary equivalent to what US employees get paid for a similar position.

When to Apply:

Every year USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) start accepting H1B petitions from April 1st until the quota is filled. Once the petition is approved, an individual can start working under H1B status as early as October 1st of the same year.

Required Documents for Filing H1B:

H1B Petition Documents Checklist

H1B Visa Fee Structure:

H1B processing fee is to be paid to the US immigration services to process the application. Fee ranges between $1575 to $4325 depending on the size of the company. The petitioning employer is legally required to pay the H1B processing fee. Below is the complete break down of the various fees associated with H1B petition: 

H1B Visa Petition Fees 2015

Filing Process:

USCIS starts accepting H1B petitions on April 1st every year. For the Fiscal Year 2014, the total cap of 85,000 petitions were filled by April 5th, 2013, just in 5 days. So it is extremely important that you plan ahead of time, gather all the supporting documents and request your employer to file as early as April 1st, so you wouldn’t miss out. Here is a clear picture of how the H1B petitioning process is carried out:

Visa Interview Process:

Once after you receive the H1B petition approval (I-797), the next step is to get ready for visa stamping interview. Embassy made it clear that one is allowed to schedule the interview only up to 90 days prior to the employment start date as noted on your H1B approval document (I-797) . In other words, if your H1B start date is on October 1st, 2013, you are allowed to schedule the interview only after July 1st, 2013. However, due to the federal regulations, you can only enter to the United States starting 10 days prior to the employment start date.

Now, let’s get started with the interview process! Recently the interview set up process has been changed, currently it is mandatory that you should schedule two interviews one for a figure prints (first) and one for an interview (later). We have been reported that if the figure prints interview does not go smoothly for any reason (mostly missing documents), he/she is not allowed to take the actual interview as planned, you would need to reschedule both interviews all over again. So it is extremely important that you follow the new process as per their guidelines carefully. To make you feel comfortable with the new process, we will walk you through each step and help you schedule the interview.

Step 1: Documents

Gather all the required documents for stamping. Please follow the below checklist for the required documents:

Step 2: Photograph

You need to upload the recent digital photo during the process of filling DS-160. It is very important that you meet certain criteria with the size and content of your photo. Please follow the appropriate Guidelines

Step 3: DS-160

Filling DS-160 is the first step in setting up the visa interview process. The DS-160 must be filled completely and submitted prior to the visa interview. The unique Barcode that is listed on your DS-160 confirmation page is what you use to schedule your interview. It is important that you answer all questions on DS-160 accurately and completely. Make sure you have the following documents handy while you fill up the DS-160:

  • Passport
  • Travel itinerary (If you have already made specific plans)
  • Resume (You will be asked to enter previous employment history)
  • Educational Certificates (You are required to enter the dates/schools you attended)
  • Digital Photo (You will be asked to upload a recent digital photo)

Once you are ready to fill the DS-160, Click Here and follow the instructions.

Step 4: Pay the visa fee and Schedule an interview

To schedule an interview, you first have to Create Profile and pay a visa fee. Previously, payments options were very limited but fortunately, now they are lot more flexible. You can make a payment through the following options:

  • National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) – Funds will be transferred directly from your account
  • Mobile Payments (IMPS)
  • Over the Counter (Cash) – Axis Bank or CitiBank or Druk Bank

Note: The application fee for a non-immigrant H1B visa is $190

Once after you create the profile, you are required to choose one of the above payment options to proceed, for example, if you choose the option to pay cash over the counter from one of the provided banks, you will be given a confirmation number that you are supposed to take to the bank for making the payment without which no payment will be accepted. Finally, once the payment is made, Bank will issue a receipt number that you will need to enter to schedule an appointment.

Log back in after 3 hours of making the payment (requires 3 hours for activation), enter the receipt number and reserve slots for interview and finger printing.

H1B Visa Interview Questions: 

US graduates – H1B Interview Questions & Answers

Individuals coming to US on H1B for the first time – Interview Questions & Answers