What is the H1B Visa?
The H1B visa allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers temporarily in specialty occupations. H1B visas fit into the category of employment “H” visas because it is for non-immigrant workers. H1B visas are specifically for workers in certain specialty occupations who wish to be employed in the U.S. temporarily. A worker using a H1B visa cannot stay in the U.S. permanently.
What Documents are Required for the H1B Visa?
In order to apply for the H1B visa, both the employee (applicant) and the employer will be required to provide various documents to the U.S. government, from petition forms to evidentiary documents. Below is a list of the documents needed throughout the application process.
A unique aspect of the H1B visa is that applicants must first be selected in the H1B lottery before they are eligible to apply. Thus, applicants must register for the lottery, though this is usually done by the applicant’s employer or the employer’s agent.
Instead of having to fill out a particular document to register for the H1B lottery, the applicant’s employer must do so by creating an account with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or by simply logging into an existing account, if one has already been created in the past.
It is important that employers understand what type of USCIS online account is appropriate for you. Registering with the wrong account type can result in an error that could disrupt your ability to receive an H1B visa.
There are three types of USCIS online accounts that you could register under. Review the account types below to determine which one matches your circumstances.
- Applicant/Petitioner/Requester Account
This account type is not appropriate for H1B visa registrations. Instead, this account type is used for individuals to prepare and file applications, petitions, or other benefit requests.
- Attorney/Representative Account
Attorneys or other representatives who are submitting H1B registrations on behalf of a petitioner must use this type of account. This account will allow the attorney or representative to submit Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative.
- Registrant Account
Prospective petitioners should register using this type of account. Petitioners can use this account to participate in the H1B registration process regardless of whether an attorney or representative will submit the registration on the petitioners behalf.
Employers or their attorney can file the H1B petition only IF their applicant is selected in the lottery. The earliest an employer or their attorney can initiate the visa process is 6 months prior to the employment date stated on the petition or 6 months prior to the expiration date of the applicant’s current H1B status.
File Labor Condition Application (LCA)
At the start of the petitioning process, the employer or potential employer must first file a Labor Condition Application with the U.S. Department of Labor on the applicant’s behalf. This application requires the employer or potential employer to show that it will treat the H1B visa holder the same as other qualified workers in its same geographic area with regard to wage, and that other employees will be unaffected by the H1B visa holder’s working conditions. There is no fee associated with the LCA.
File Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
After the Labor Condition Application is certified by the Department of Labor, the employer or potential employer must then complete a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
The employer or potential employer must submit Form I-129 and the certified Labor Condition Application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as well as any fees and additional documentation that confirms your education level, certification, licensure, professional qualifications, employment or potential employment, and support from the employer or potential employer.
Evidentiary Documents Submitted with Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
When submitting Form I-129, evidentiary documentation that proves the applicant and employer qualify for the H1B visa must be included. This includes:
- Evidence that a labor condition application has been filed with the U.S. Department of Labor;
- A copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment;
- Evidence showing that the proposed employment qualifies as a specialty occupation;
- Evidence showing that the applicant has the required degree by submitting either:
- Evidence of education and experience that is equivalent to the required U.S. degree;
- A copy of a foreign degree and evidence that it is equivalent to the U.S. degree; or
- A copy of the person’s U.S. baccalaureate or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation;
- A copy of any written contract between you and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed.
File Form DS-160 if Outside the United States
H1B visa applicants who are not in the United States at the time Form I-129 is approved must take necessary steps to lawfully enter the United States and begin working.
Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is required to be filed online over the internet, where applicants must also pay an associated fee.
Form DS-160 asks applicants to provide a lot of information, so it is important to prepare your information for the application.
Among the information it asks for, applicants will be required to provide:
- Personal information, such as name, date of birth, and marital status;
- Nationality, passport or national identification number(s), and U.S. social security number or taxpayer ID number, if applicable;
- Travel information, such as travel plans, purpose of the trip to the U.S., arrival and departure dates or estimations, and the U.S. address at which the applicant will stay;
- Travel companions, if any, such as family, friends, or members of a tour group;
- Any previous U.S. travel, including dates of travel and details of the trip;
- Whether the applicant has ever applied for a U.S. immigrant visa or been denied a U.S. visa of any kind;
- Applicant’s address, phone number, email address, and social media accounts;
- A point of contact in the United States, such as a person or place who knows the applicant and can verify their identity or will be visited by the applicant during their trip;
- Information about applicant’s relatives, including their parents and spouse;
- Applicant’s work, education, and training background over the past 5 years;
- Applicant’s security and background information; and
- A photo of the applicant;
Attend U.S. Embassy or Consulate Interview if Outside the United States
Before H1B visa applicants are issued the H1B visa, they must first schedule an interview to take place at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy if the applicant is outside the United States at the time they apply. When attending the interview, applicants must bring certain documents with them to prove they qualify for the H1B visa.
Among the documents the applicant is required to bring to the interview are:
- valid passport
- a printed copy of the confirmation page from your completion of Form DS-160
- a copy of your approved form I-129 and I-797 approval (issued to you previously when your form I-129 application was approved)
- receipts proving you paid your application fees and a passport-sized photo of you that conforms with U.S. Department of State guidelines;
- Degree and certification documents;
- Resume and curriculum vitae (CV)