What is H-1B Visa? How To Apply, Visa Requirements, Recent Changes Updates

The United States, which is famous for its opportunities in various fields, attracts skilled professionals worldwide. Among the various options for working in the United States, the H-1B visa is a popular choice for international professionals looking to explore career opportunities.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa granted to individuals with expertise in specialised fields who want to work in the U.S. Its primary purpose is to fill skill gaps in the U.S. job market, thus increasing industries to new limits.

Typically, this visa is granted for a period of three to six years, with provisions for extensions, especially for those in the process of obtaining permanent residency, commonly known as a green card.

New Changes Introduced to H-1B Visas

In response to the changing needs of the American workforce, the American government has made some major changes to H-1B visas. Also, a new pilot programme was launched to make the renewal of H-1B visas easier for certain people already in the U.S.

Ending Multiple Entries

One of the major changes is stopping employers from entering the same employee multiple times. In 2023, more than half of the 800,000 H-1B registrations were multiple entries. This unfairly gave some applicants better chances.

Now, an employee can only be registered once, and employers need to give passport information to each employee. This helps the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) make the selection process fair. If this rule is not followed, there will be denials or cancellations.

No “employer-employee” relationship is required

Before 2010, there was a requirement for an “employer-employee” relationship. This was a big problem for company founders wanting to get H-1B visas through their own companies. The new rule gets rid of this requirement, making it easier for business owners to use the H-1B programme to grow their businesses, even if they own a big part of the company.

More site visits

To stop fraud, especially in the IT consulting area, USCIS will do more and stricter site visits. Inspectors may come without notice, talk to officials, check records, and speak with employees. This is to make sure employers follow the H-1B programme rules.

Stricter Definition of “Specialty Occupation”

There is a clearer definition of a “speciality occupation” now. The new rule says there needs to be a clear link between the needed degree field and the job duties. This might lead to more Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and denials for deserving candidates.

Eligibility Requirements for H-1B visa

Eligibility for the H-1B visa is based on three essential criteria. First, a U.S. employer must offer a job in a specialised field. Second, the educational background of the applicant is crucial; a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent is a fundamental requirement.

However, in some cases, the U.S. immigration system allows for the exchange of academics with equivalent work experience. Lastly, the offered salary is vital; it must meet the minimum threshold, currently set at $60,000 per year.

How To Apply for H-1B Visa?

The process of applying for an H-1B visa starts with the U.S. employer. The employer must first submit an electronic registration. After this, there’s a lottery system that picks out who can move forward to the next step. If chosen, the employer can then fill out a more detailed application. The person applying for the visa will need to submit documents that prove their qualifications and the job offer. You can follow the following steps to apply for H-1B visa-

  1. To participate in USCIS registration processes, individuals need to create a USCIS online account.
  2. When individuals intend to register for certain USCIS programs, they must specifically choose the “registrant” account option.
  3. The ability to include additional information becomes available only once the initial registration period begins, provided that the “I am an H-1B registrant” option is selected.
  4. When individuals are registering for themselves, they are required to provide their company-related details within the registration.
  5. If a representative is assisting with the registration process, the company information entered by the representative should be carefully reviewed by the registrant.
  6. Representatives have the option to either create a new account of the same type or utilize an existing account (if available) to carry out their duties.
  7. When representatives create their accounts, they need to include their law firm or organizational information as part of the account setup.

USCIS Official Website: www.uscis.gov

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