What is H1B visa?
The H1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for Temporary workers in the United States. An employer must offer a job in the US and apply for your H1B visa petition. An approved petition is a work permit, which allows you to obtain a visa stamp set up for specialty occupations. To qualify for an H1B Visa, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Often in our law firm, we have clients come to us from occupations that are considered non-specialty, asking for an H1B visa.
Although there may be other options for these clients, it is essential to have the appropriate schooling and work credentials when applying for this visa. Otherwise, it will get denied.
When to apply?
For 2019, the deadline to apply is April 1, 2018. That means that deadline must submit all your documentation. Lawyers begin working on putting together your case and documents at the beginning of January.
If you were assured an H1B petition for 2019, and your documents have not been collected, make sure your employer is still following the plan and have the necessary conversation with your manager/ HR/ appropriate department. Such documents Include your transcript, list of class descriptions from college or postgraduate school, and prior overseas or local work experience attained. If you are still in school and planning on applying for an H1B visa in the future, this is a great time to keep documentation about all of your classes related to your major and to pick classes that are very specific to the field you wish to work in.
Tips for filing H1B
1. Be picky about the employer you work for: When considering an employer, it is
important to ask them how many H1B employees, they currently have at the Company. Also, does the job that the employer is offering you require a higher degree to perform the duties of the job? Who will be managing your work on the job? Is the employer willing to pay you the correct wages required for the H1B Visa?
Asking these questions up front will save you a lot of time later in dealing with an H1B Visa rejection.
2. Make sure your specialty occupation is related to your degree: The name of your designation/work profile, as well as the job description details should be able
to prove that you are a specialist at your role. For example, someone who majored in Mathematics in their Undergraduate degree should not take on the job of a Computer Programmer, unless they can show that they have adequate knowledge and skills to maintain such a role. Often employers come to us because they cannot justify a reason to USCIS as to why their organization has hired you. This is probably because you were not properly qualified for the role in which you were hired, and the employer did not vet your qualifications. To prevent this, it is important that both you and the employer ensure that the reason they are hiring you over a local worker is that your very specific degree and experiences make you the most qualified candidate.
3. Make sure the pay/ wages that you accept is in line with your degree and qualifications, and you are not paid less than the prevailing wages for that role. The Department of Labor website, as well as a qualified Attorney, can guide you as to the wages that you need to get paid to qualify for the H1B Visa.
4. Gather the following documents:
Description of degree
5. File the H1B on time. This year’s date is April 1, 2018.
Make sure the filing fees come from the employer, including any premium processing fees. The fees are changing regularly, so it is essential to check the USCIS website to get the most updated filing amounts.
6. Answer any and all Request for Evidence (RFE) documents on time. An RFE does not mean that you H1B has been denied, it means that USCIS does not have enough information to be able to approve you at this time. Thus, they need more documentation and evidence in your case. Often RFEs come because there is not enough evidence that the employer did their due diligence in seeking a comparable employee who is a United States Citizen and could work in the same position. Also, RFEs come in when USCIS needs to know your exact duties throughout your workday and understand which classes and work experiences you have had to help you in these duties. It is very important to answer RFEs with as much detail and evidence as you can, as cases are decided based on the RFE response. This past year, Attorneys see more RFEs on H1B applications than before, so it is essential to answer the RFE on time and adequately to help your case.
7. Make sure to maintain your job, stay in touch with your manager, and keep your pay consistent
8. Contact an attorney if you need help
Although this overview addresses fundamental H1B issues, it is critical to recognize that even seemingly simple H1B matters can quickly lead to more complex problems. The Department of Labor is increasing enforcement efforts aimed at Labor Condition Application violations. Meanwhile, we are seeing the USCIS provide heightened scrutiny to H1B petitions, issuing more RFEs and denials with far more frequency than in years past. As such, it is best to work with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the H1B process.