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The H1B Visa: Who Is Applying, Who Is Accepted?

Thousands of foreign workers apply for the H1B visa each year—in 2018 alone, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services received nearly 200,00 applications. They accepted 85,000, and 20,000 of these applicants had advanced degrees. But the U.S. is only becoming more selective, accepting significantly less applications than in prior years and increasing both fees and required paperwork.

But what exactly is the H1B, and why is it so popular? The H1B is the authorization for a foreign worker to come to the U.S. and work for a U.S. company. The company sponsors their employee, paying for the visa fees and submitting documentation on their behalf. The duration of the employee’s stay is initially three years—longer than other visas such as B1 and J1—and they can even apply for an extension. Under the H1B, employees can bring their families into the U.S., transfer to other employers, work for multiple employers at once, and work either full-time or part-time. Many apply for legal permanent residency while under H1B nonimmigrant status.

But the work the employee does must be highly specialized—essentially, the visa is a way for employers to fill a position when they aren’t able to find a U.S. worker. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, and those holding an advanced degree benefit from greater odds of selection. The USCIS also accepts fashion models and Department of Defense research and development project workers.

7 Steps You Can Take to Prepare for the 2020 H1B Season

With unprecedented complexity and selectivity, preparing ahead of time becomes vital. Here are 7 steps you can take to prepare for the 2020 H1B season and increase your odds of selection.

  1. Put together your paperwork and payments ahead of time. The H1B filing period begins on the first business day of April each year and stays open for only five business days. Sending in your application before or after the scheduled window results in automatic rejection. Plan ahead to lower the chance of an unexpected mailing issue ruining your opportunity.
  2. Double check that all sections of the application have been filled out correctly. Make sure you haven’t missed any signatures or made errors in addresses. Mistakes or omissions will likely result in an automatic rejection.
  3. Consider filing applications with multiple employers. The USCIS will reject duplicated petitions filed by a single employer, but if you apply through multiple employers, you will likely increase your odds of approval. Once accepted, you can apply to transfer employment.
  4. Apply for positions that require your degree. Some applicants successfully obtain an H1B visa for a job that is only tangentially related to their educational background. But with today’s unprecedented levels of competition, it is better to play it safe and apply for a transfer once you get the visa.
  5. Make sure the employer pays the processing fees. The USCIS may automatically reject applications where the fees are paid by the beneficiary. If they accept your application but later discover you paid, they could still revoke the visa.
  6. Become cap-exempt. If your application is cap-exempt, you are not subject to the lottery system or its time constraints. To become cap-exempt, your employer must be a government research center, an institution of higher education, or a non-profit organization associated with an institution of higher education.
  7. Stay up to date regarding current H1B visa rules. The rules, qualifications, required paperwork, and deadlines surrounding this visa (and many other immigration-related legal processes) are in a state of constant flux. Stay on top of these changes to avoid unnecessary mistakes.

After obtaining the visa, the work you do in the U.S. will play a significant role in how long you are able to stay. If you quit or get fired, you’ll need to find a new employer and complete the paperwork again, apply for a change of status, or leave the United States.

Visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Servicesfor more information about what kind of work qualifies for the H1B visa and how to apply. For skilled legal counsel and representation by an attorney who has experienced the immigration process himself, call Terkiana, Inc. Immigration Attorneys at (415) 233-4242 or contact us onlineto schedule an appointment.

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