H1B VISA PROGRAM
(Alternately, you can visit the official USCIS website for further details)
What is an H1B Visa?
The H1B visa program is the primary method for employers to recruit and hire international professionals to work in the USA. The H1B visa enables US employers to hire foreign professionals for a specified period of time, usually an ‘initial’ period of up to three (3) years that can then be extended one time for up to a combined total of six (6) years.
One of the things that makes the H1B so desirable is that, unlike many other non-immigrant visa categories, it is a “dual intent” visa. This means that a visa will not be denied simply because a person has intentions to become a permanent resident.
Aside from documenting that the position offered is in a specialty occupation and that the employee has the appropriate credentials for the job, the employer needs to verify and ensure that the H1B visa worker will be paid the prevailing wage for the work being performed (which protects you).
H1B Visa Qualifying occupation categories are typically jobs in the fields of IT, Computing, Finance, Accounting, Banking, Marketing, Advertising, PR, Sales, Recruiting, Engineering (all types), Teaching, Healthcare/Medical, Legal, Lawyers, Networking, Telecoms, Business, Management, and Scientific Research.
Other regulatory provisions permit:
(1) the employer to request a period of less than three years,
(2) the employee to be employed on a part-time basis,
(3) the employee to work for more than one US employer simultaneously (however, employee must have a Form I-129 petition approved by each employer)
Step 1: Find An Employer (Visa Sponsor) – GCSC provides various Custom Job Search Strategies (Local, National, International, and Overseas) to help achieve this objective. For a quick list of the top 100 H1-B sponsors for 2011, please visit here.
Step 2: Have The Employer Fill Out The Sponsorship Document and Pay The Relevant Filing Fees to the US Immigration Bureau (Note: Individuals cannot sponsor or apply for their own H1-B visa. Only authorized US Employers can).
Step 3: Understand Your Dates – There is an annual filing date of April 1 and hard quotas for the H1B (though they are usually not filled). Even if you get your approval and your visa from the consulate, you cannot begin employment until October 1 that year. So if you were to apply now and receive your visa in April, you would begin work in October of 2011. So plan ahead.
Step 4: Make your Interview – When you have all of your documents (both from your employer and the ones you have to prepare yourself), along with fees, photos, and other proof documents, then book an interview with the closest US consulate that can process that type of visa. Every country and sometimes city has different wait times, methods of interview, turnaround times, etc. so be prepared.
Step 5: Book Your Ticket – Be prepared at your port of entry into the US to answer potential questions about your visa. Don’t worry because if you have everything in order, you will be fine.
Step 6: Get A Social Security Number – This is essentially your key to living in the US and is vital from everything to opening a bank account, getting a mobile phone, credit cards, signing a lease, and getting paid. You can only do this from within the country and it can take up to 6 weeks for them to send you your card and number but usually it is 2-4 weeks.
Step 7: Start Work!!
H1B Visa Qualification Requirements:
The Current Eligibility Requirements to Qualify for an H1B work visa are (Note: Only ONE of the following is required to qualify):
A Bachelor’s degree, or a higher level degree (such as Masters)
The degree can be from studies in the USA, or from a country outside the USA
The degree must be from a real/accredited University or College
The degree must be at least a four-year degree
OR, if the applicant does NOT have a degree:
At least 12 years progressive work experience in their occupation
OR, if the applicant does NOT have a degree or 12 years work experience:
A license to practice in the chosen occupation (if such a license is required to practice)
A mix of further education (e.g Diploma) and work experience, with a total in excess of 12 years.
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