Find an Experienced H1-B Visa Attorney in San Jose
Does your current professional role require you to work in the United States as part of the job? Were you recently offered a job in the U.S. and need to secure a visa? Are you an employer and would like to petition for a visa for an incoming employee? Whatever the situation may be, there are many types of visas available for temporary or non-immigrant workers, the most popular being the H1-B visa. Like any type of visa, the process of securing an H1-B visa can be confusing at first. With the help of an experienced H1-B visa lawyer in San Jose, make the transition to the U.S. easier and less stressful.
What is an H1-B Visa?
The H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa that essentially permits a foreign worker to work in the U.S. in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation pertains to a job that requires the “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge” in fields like chemistry, architecture, mathematics, physical and social sciences, the arts, and more. Generally, a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent) is required, at a minimum, for entry into a specialty occupation in the U.S. If your degree is from a foreign institution, it will be evaluated on whether or not it can be considered an equivalent to a degree earned from a U.S. institution.
The Advantages of an H1-B Visa
While there are many different types of visas, there is usually one that is better suited for you than others. Visas tend to be categorized by matters such as occupation type, length of stay, and other pertinent factors. Many visas are granted only for a specified length of time wherein the holder is expected to return to their country of citizenship once the visa expires. One of the biggest advantages of an H1-B visa, unlike other non-immigrant visas, is that it is also a dual intent visa. A dual intent visa grants the foreign worker both the right to work in the U.S. and the ability to petition for permanent residence in the future. It could be the first step to obtaining a green card.
Aside from the possibility of having a green card in the future, the H1-B visa grants the foreign worker certain benefits and rights while the visa is in effect. For instance, the holder of an H1-B visa has the right to live and work in the United States, as well as the option to bring immediate family with them, such as their spouse and children up to 21 years old, who they claim as dependents. The children will be granted public education at K-university during the duration of the visa. Under immigration law, the holder of the H1-B visa will also be able to obtain a social security number and driver’s license, which are both essential to life in the United States.
The H1-B Application Process
It’s important to note that the U.S. employer is the petitioner of the H1-B visa, and you, as the foreign worker, are the beneficiary. The U.S. employer must first file a Labor Condition Application (LCA), which attests that the beneficiary will be paid at least the prevailing wage.
The Labor Condition Application is submitted along with the employer’s H1-B petition to the USCIS, which must be filed no more than six months before the requested employment start date. Documents that need to be submitted include the job offer letter, copies of educational degrees, pay stubs, tax returns, and resume. Other documents may be required; for an exhaustive list, you should contact an H1-B visa lawyer in San Jose. Aside from filling out the correct forms and supporting documents, you may face a visa interview with a U.S. Consular Officer prior to the application being completed or as a final step in the process.
What is the Cap for H1-B Visas?
It is important to keep in mind that there is a filing season and cap on this type of visa. The filing season for H1-B visas starts in April of every year, and they are doled out starting in October. It is highly recommended that your employer start preparing for the petitions as early as possible since H1-B visas are subject to an annual cap determined by the U.S. Congress. Presently, the cap is at 65,000 per fiscal year (October 1 to September 30), with an additional 20,000 for individuals with advanced degrees from an accredited U.S. institution of higher education.
While the cap is pretty strict, there may be exceptions made for areas or fields where experienced specialty professionals are desperately needed or in short supply. If you are worried you have missed the cap for an H1-B visa, it is always worth contacting an H1-B visa attorney to see if the field or area of your profession is in higher than usual demand. Even if the field is in high demand, it is always best to apply for an H1-B visa as soon as possible to avoid being denied due to the cap.
How Long is an H1-B Visa Valid?
The H1-B visa is valid for up to six years. The initial H1-B visa is granted for up to three years, with the option of renewing it for another three years. Once the six years are up, the holder of the H1-B visa must either leave the United States or apply for permanent citizenship through a green card. If the person is applying for a green card following the end of their valid H1-B visa, they may worry about whether they can stay in the U.S. in the meantime. Since the green card process may take time to complete, the existing H1-B visa will usually stay in effect (beyond six years) while the green card process is underway. If a person has an expired H1-B visa beyond six years and is not applying for a green card, they will need to return to their citizenship country.
What is an H1 B2 Visa?
In addition to the H1-B visa, there is also an H1 B2 visa available under the category of specialized employment. While an H1-B visa is intended for workers in specialty occupations, the H1 B2 visa is specifically for specialty professionals working in the Department of Defense (DOD) or a related government unit wherein the work will involve research or project development. This is a more specialized visa category, and only a select few qualify for this type of visa. Most employees seeking an H1 visa will likely seek an H1-B visa rather than the H1 B2 visa. Another, albeit less common H1-B visa type, is intended for fashion models since it is a uniquely specialized field. This type of visa is called an H1 B3 visa. If you are unsure about your ability to qualify for an H1-B visa of any of the H1 types, contacting experienced H1-B visa lawyers is a smart idea.
Why Hire an Immigration Lawyer?
The immigration process is not an easy one to navigate; a small misstep could set you back drastically. You don’t want that kind of thing happening, especially for a visa with an annual cap each fiscal year. If you miss the deadline due to errors and the cap is reached, you will not be able to move forward with employment. It is for this reason having an experienced H1-B visa attorney in San Jose to guide you through the process is crucial, even necessary.
Documentation, for instance, is exhaustive. All sorts of documents are needed, both from you and from your employer. An immigration lawyer can help you organize these records in a manner that is intuitive and sensible. They can also ensure that your employer meets all their legal obligations, like maintaining a public access file for you and informing the USCIS of any change in employment.
Aside from ensuring proper documentation and procedures, the help of an H1-B visa lawyer will give you peace of mind. Most people are unfamiliar with the legal ins and outs of filing for a visa, which can create unnecessary stress and confusion. Your H1-B visa attorney will be there to answer questions regarding the process and help keep things on track. The use of H1-B attorneys will also ensure that if an error comes up, you will be made aware of the mistake prior to submitting the application materials, which always saves time.
What if I Don’t Qualify for an H1-B visa?
Another instance where a lawyer would make a huge difference? If you don’t have the required qualifications for the job offered to you or if the job itself isn’t considered a “specialty occupation.” An experienced H1-B visa attorney can present a solid case and convince the immigration officer that you are qualified for the job. If you do not qualify for an H1-B visa based on the job role, an attorney may be able to find an alternative visa category that will still allow you to work and live in the United States. Whenever you are unsure about visa types or your ability to quality, contacting a knowledgeable H1-B visa attorney should be your first step. They will be able to assist you and answer your questions regarding the often-complex process of securing a visa.
Seek Simplicity in the H1-B Process
If your employer is planning to file for an H1-B visa on your behalf, make sure you seek the help of a San Jose immigration attorney. With reliable legal assistance in the preparation and filing of H1-B visa petitions, a lawyer can remove some of the stress throughout the process. Whether you are an employer petitioning for an employee’s visa or you are the employee, the right H1-B attorney is here to offer experienced legal guidance. Get started today by calling (408) 389-4764 or online by filling out a brief contact form.