H-1B visa: Person in Specialty Occupation Guide


Everything about H-1B the US works visa

The United States offers a plethora of working opportunities to foreign workers willing to work in the United States. However, if you are also one of those foreign workers eager to work at a specialty occupation in the United States, then H- 1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that you should apply for. To get complete details about the H- 1B visa application process, you can continue reading the below guide.

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What is H-1B?

H1B visa is another non-immigrant US work visa that allows an employee to start working in the United States. This type of visa especially for the high skilled workers who are willing to get employed in the specialty occupation in the United States for a specific period. As per the immigration and nationality act, foreign workers will require an H1B visa to start working in the United States.


H1B visa is commonly known as a person’s specialty occupation visa. This means you will only get qualified for the H1B visa if you are ready to work at a specific job position and met all these below-listed requirements:

Must have advanced educational degree including:

  • Four-year bachelor degree
  • You must obtain a master’s or doctoral degree.
  • You must have vocational skills or advanced training in the profession like fashion models.
  • The employee must get eligible to work in research and development projects of the US Department of defense or in any other US government job position.

Few examples of US job positions include:

  • IT specialists
  • Architects
  • Accountants
  • Professors
  • Doctors
  • Lawyers, etc

The H1B work visa for appointing an employee is to be sponsored by US employers. In order to hire foreign employees, the US employer should have vacancies in the specific job position for which foreign employees is applying, and the employer does not find any qualified US employees to work at this job position. This job position is to be filled only by the skillful individuals having a higher level of education and is capable enough to fill the job position.

If a US employer receives job applications from a foreign employee and has met all the requirements related to the job position, then a US HB1 work visa is initiated.

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How to apply for an H1B visa

No foreign worker can apply for an H1B visa individually. It is to be sponsored by US employers only if foreign employees has confirmed job offer at a specific job position in the United States. The filing period of the H-1B visa begins from first April, and it lasts till the quota is met.

Step followed by the employer to apply for an H1B visa.

Steps that need to be followed by the employer to sponsor foreign worker H1B visa application are listed below:

Obtain labor condition application

US employers looking to hire a foreign worker must obtain an approved labor condition application from the United States Department of Labor (DOL). This letter is an indication that a US employer gets eligible to appoint foreign workers. This certification also signifies that US employers will be solely responsible for the compensation and treatment of foreign workers. However, this certification will also state that US employers need to hire foreign workers because US workers are not eligible or willing to work.

In the application, the employer also mentions the total amount of time they are willing to hire foreign workers. In addition, US employers must also guarantee some of the basic things to the United States and foreign employees:

  • The employer will be solely responsible for paying all the wages on behalf of the foreign employee.
  • Providing the best possible working environment and conditions to the foreign employees.
  • The employer will be responsible for updating the foreign employees regarding the changes done in the labor certification.
  • Employers must inform the United States government regarding the place where foreign employees will be working.
  • Give each detail about the Company and the current number of employees working.
  • The employer will also mention the income that will be given to the employee and the job description on the application.

Labour certification application is to be filed with the United States Department of labor. Before proceeding with other steps to hire an employee, the US employer should first have an approved LCA. Employees are not granted to work unless all the documents and certifications are obtained.

Submit the petition with USCIS

Once US employers obtain certification, the other step is to file the petition form I-129 with USCIS. This form is the main form of hiring foreign employees, and USCIS is the only US immigration authority that processes all the petition forms. The only motive to file this application form is to get information from the US government to appoint foreign workers to your company.

I-129 forms

Every US employer on hiring each employee requires filing a separate I-129 petition form.

I-129 forms are required:

  • In case two separate US companies are hiring foreign employees, then to hire foreign employees, each company has to file a separate petition form I-129.
  • If an employee wishes to extend their visa or the employer wants the employee to continue working for long, the employer must file Form I-129.
  • If foreign employees change their jobs, the new employer has to submit a new petition form I-129.

Submit the forms and attach the document file

Now, it’s time to submit the forms and prepare the documents file. Always remember all the forms that you submit to USCIS should be signed by black pen. The employer will require to attach the fee checks and all the below-given documents:

  • I-129 Form filing fee – If the employer feels that the fees are too high, they can apply for a fee waiver program with USCIS by filling the application form I-912.
  • Employer-funded training fee – $1500 is to be paid by those employees having 25 or more full-time employees in the United States, and $750 for those employers having below 25 full-time employees.
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500 also needs to be paid for every foreign worker.
  • Pay off the Public Law 114-113 Fee of $4,000 – The employer will only pay this fee if they have more than 50 employees in the company and half of the employees are appointed on H1B or L visas. During the extension of the visa, the employer does not have to pay the fees.
  • Employees who want their visa application to get processed rapidly will require filing the application form I-907 and paying the additional fee of $1225.
  • If an immigration lawyer represents the US employer, an application form G-28 is required.
  • Application form I-129 is also to be compared with the document file.

Some of the additional documentation that needs to be submitted is listed below:

  • Documents showing that foreign employee fulfills all the required education qualifications (photocopy of certification/ diploma should be submitted)
  • A photocopy of valid passport (foreign workers)
  • Printout of the work contract signed by both the employer and employees
  • Most recent tax returns of the company hiring the foreign employee
  • The employer required to submit a total of 15 photographs of business premises

Where should I need to submit the petition?

US employers can conveniently submit petitions to USCIS by visiting any of the following locations:

  • Nebraska Service Center (LIN for Lincoln, Nebraska);
  • Vermont Service Center (EAC for Eastern Adjudication Center);
  • Texas Service Center (SRC for Southern Regional Center);
  • California Service Center (WAC for Western Adjudication Center).

It is always recommended for the employer to visit the nearest service center to submit the petition. After USCIS receives your petition, they will provide you case number through which you can easily track the status of your petition. The format of the case number will be similar to this: EAC-18-107-50321.

Let us understand what this case number means; the starting three-letter case number indicates the service Centre processing your petition (EAC for Vermont Service Center). The next two digits in the case numbers (18) indicate the year when your petition was submitted. The next number, 107, defines the day when the application was submitted to USCIS. Generally, the date of submission is counted when USCIS starts working on your application until the last date when they received your application ( holidays and weekends are excluded). And, the last five numbers (50321) state your case number. The order of the case number is given randomly, and there is no clue how USCIS arrange the case number of your petition.

Wait for a decision from USCIS.

Now, until USCIS reviews your petition form and check if the provided job offer is real or not, and based on all the information provided, USCIS decides if they will grant it or deny it. Unless USCIS make their final decision, none of employers or employees can take the next step. Upon approval of the petition for the foreign worker by USCIS, they will provide you the form I-797. This form is an indication that foreign employees can start the H1B visa application process.

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Steps to Apply for an H1B Visa

The actual H1B visa application is to be filed by an applicant willing to get employed in the United States. Here are few steps to apply for an H1B visa:

  • Fill in Form DS-160. The first and most important step of filing the H1B visa application form is to file DS-160. While completing the form, ensure to read all the information properly and provide each document mentioned in the form.
  • Schedule an interview. Once you have submitted the application form DS-160 online, now it’s time to schedule the Visa interview as quickly as possible. Since the US embassy takes time to respond to every request they receive, it’s always better to schedule an appointment as soon as you meet all the requirements.
  • After that, you will require to pay the application of $190.
  • Submit all the supporting documents for the H1B visa (Given below).
  • Attend the H1B Visa interview. When you visit the interview center, ensure to carry all the documents required and be ready to respond to all the questions asked by the officer. The question will be regarding your application and the work you are willing to perform in the United States. If you are getting employed in the United States for the first time, then the immigration officer will ask you to register your fingerprint for records.

Once you have paid the H1B visa application fee, you are required to attach all the relevant documents listed below:

  • A valid passport
  • A photocopy of your particular personal page of your passport.
  • You will also require to submit all the previously issued passports.
  • You will have to attach a receipt of your Visa application which shows that you have paid the fees.
  • You must submit the digital photograph considering the digital image requirement set by the US government.
  • Submit the printout of the receipt number of application form I-129 and the original and a copy of application form I-129.
  • A photocopy of the application form I-797
  • You are also required to attach the offer letter that you received from the employer mentioning the job description.
  • Submit the documents representing your qualification ( diplomas and certifications).

If you have previously worked in the United States, then you will be required to submit some additional documents:

  • Your previous tax return forms.
  • Some basic details like names and contact details of the previous supervisor and employers.
  • Submit your resume or CV.
  • Pay slip of the previous 12 months.

In case you are getting employed in the United States for the very first time; then you will require to submit some of the documents listed below:

  • Your resume or CV.
  • Some basic details about the employers and supervisors appointing you to work in the United States.
  • Contact details and the name of the two co-workers of your previous and current jobs.
  • Official letter from employer mentioning your responsibility and duty of the job that you will perform while working in the United States.
  • You must submit bank statements.
  • Photographs of the premises where are you will be working.

Total Costs of an H1b Visa

Apart from the H1B visa application fee of $190 at the US embassy, you will also be required to pay some additional fees related to H1B visas are:

Visa issuance fee: the applicant will require to pay the Visa card issuance fee. To get an idea of the exact amount that needs to be paid for issuing an H1b visa, you should contact the nearest US embassy.

What type of Health Insurance H-1B visa holder gets Eligible For?

The type of health insurance that you will be eligible to get as an H1B visa holder depends on your stay in the United States. As an H1b visa holder, you can get eligible for obtaining:

  • Short-term insurance
  • Long-term (domestic) insurance

Processing time for H-1B visa?

There is no exact time of how much it will take to process your H1B visa application as it depends upon the country from where you are applying. However, in every city, several embassies have its own timeline to process the application, so it’s a good idea to connect with your nearest US embassy for such details.

How Long Can I Stay in the US with an H1B Visa?

Upon approval of the H1B visa application, the applicant can stay and work in the United States initially for three years, and after extension, they will be allowed to stay for three more years. This means foreign employees are allowed to stay and work in the United States for a maximum of six years. However, just like other US work visas; this Visa doesn’t ask an employee to return to their home country after Visa expires. The thing that makes this visa different and most popular from all other US work visas is that it is a dual intent visa.

Dual intent visa is a visa that grants the foreign employee to file an Adjustment of Status Application (Form I-485) to obtain a US immigrant visa. For example, suppose a foreign employee gets a confirmed job offer after an H1B visa expiry. In that case, they can apply for employment-based green cards and become permanent residents without losing their originating country’s citizenship.

H1B Visa extension

Those foreign employees who are willing to extend their H1B visa validity require following the similar process they initially followed for filling up the application. The same fees will be paid for the visa extension, excluding Fraud Prevention and Protection Fee. Employers will also require to follow the same process they initially did from obtaining certification from DOL and approving the petition from USCIS. Besides this, the document that needs to be submitted for a visa extension are listed below:

  • Foreign employee valid passport
  • You must submit the original I-94 form that you receive upon approval of your Visa.
  • A valid I-797 form.
  • You will again require to submit the offer letter that you receive from the employer mentioning the details of your work and duly signed by the Company representative.

H1B Amendment

H1B Amendment asks US employers to submit the amended petition if there are any employee changes. Material changes are something that affects the eligibility of foreign employees for an H1B visa. As of now, USCIS has not released the checklist of what makes you eligible for such a change includes.

Some of the examples of changes include:

  • Employees’ promotion to some other department
  • Changes in the corporate structure

If the foreign employer is getting transferred to some other work location registered with the USCIS. In that case, the amendment needs to be filed by the employer after the change has been taken place. However, there are no specific guidelines related to the H1B amendment. To get information about the H1B amendment, it’s always better to contact USCIS if the change requires an amendment petition.

Can my Spouse accompany me in US?

Most of the H1B visa holder wishes their spouse and children to join them in the United States. However, children and spouses will only get qualified to join the H1B visa holder if they obtained H 4 visa. From the recent reports, it has been found that H4 visa holders can become part of the EAD program in some circumstances. H4 visa holders can get themselves registered in studies.

Apart from the spouse, children of H1B visa holders also get eligible to join them by holding an H4 visa.

It is suggested that dependent spouses willing to accompany H-1B visa holders should take up the health insurance policy before travelling to the United States. Since the cost of healthcare facilities in the United States are much costlier when compared to several other countries.

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The above-given details had covered everything that will help you successfully apply for H-1B visa, and it’s also helpful for the US employer willing to appoint a foreign worker. In order to check Marriage Green Card Timeline, you check our marriage green card guide.

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