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The U.S. only issues a total of 85,000 H-1B visas each year. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting applications for H-1B visas on April 1. The limit on those visas will be reached soon afterward. Will your application be ready in time to be considered?

Who is eligible for an H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa meant to help certain categories of workers live and work in the U.S. for three years, with limited renewals. The three categories of workers eligible for the H-1B include:

  • Workers in specialty occupations, which are jobs that require at least a bachelor's degree
  • Workers involved in cooperative research and development projectsadministered by the U.S. Department of Defense
  • Fashion models of distinguished merit and ability

The largest category of H-1B visa applicants are those in specialty occupations. These workers are eligible if they can demonstrate that they meet one of the following criteria:

  • They have earned a U.S. bachelor's degree or its equivalent, and this is normally the minimum requirement for the job.
  • The degree requirement is common for the job in the industry, or the job is so unique and complex that only a person with at least a bachelor's degree in the field could perform it.
  • The employer ordinarily requires the degree or its equivalent for this position.
  • The specific duties of the job are so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform them is typically associated with attaining a bachelor's or higher degree.

In addition, your job must be in a specialty occupation related to your field of study. You must be paid at least the actual or prevailing wage for the occupation, whichever is higher. Your employer must submit proof of a U.S. Labor Department-certified labor condition application. The labor condition application shows that there are insufficient U.S.-based workers in the field. Finally, an H-1B visa number must be available when your petition is filed unless, in rare circumstances, your petition is exempt from the usual numerical limit.

Great. Can I apply for an H-1B visa on my own?

No. You must have a job offer from a U.S. employer, and the employer must sponsor you. Your sponsoring employer must do as follows:

  • Complete and submit a signed Form I-129, "Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker" and any required supplements
  • Submit evidence showing that the position you have been offered is in a specialty occupation, as defined above; that you meet the requirements for that position; that the Labor Department has certified the labor condition application; that you will be paid the required wage; and any further necessary evidence
  • Submit the appropriate filing fee and the fee for any applicable biometric services

Once the USCIS has received your Form I-129 and its accompanying evidence and fee, you and your employer will get a receipt. You may also receive an appointment date for a biometric services appointment. Finally, you will receive a written notice of the USCIS's decision on whether to issue you the visa.

How an immigration lawyer can help you

Substantial evidence is required to prove a specialty occupation or other eligibility for an H-1B visa. If you fail to provide sufficient evidence or your application is incomplete, you may not be given a second chance at a visa this year. An experienced immigration firm like Yew Immigration Law Group can help ensure that all the necessary parts of your application are correct and complete.

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