We often get a lot of questions concerning the H-1B Specialty Occupation visa ranging from how it differs from the O-1 visa and why that April 1st deadline is SO important. To help those seeking H-1B status, we’ve compiled a list of qualifiers and ways to frame how you think about the H-1B and why procrastination is not your friend.
1. Specialty jobs and degrees are what matter
To secure an H-1B visa, the focus is on your degree and how it is related to the position you are being offered versus your acclaim, accomplishments or recognition as with the O-1 or artist visa application. A good way to determine whether or not the H-1B visa might apply to you is to begin by asking: does the position typically require the level of education and/or specific degree that you hold? If so, this is the first deciding factor to determine if you are a candidate for an H-1B visa. The salary offered will also be relevant, essentially the more you are offered the better on a number of levels.
2. There are a limited number of H-1B visas issued each year
The H-1B is numerically limited to 85,000 applicants that may be issued every year. That means if you’re number 85,001 you will likely have to wait until the following year and cycle to have another opportunity for approval. In the last few years to accommodate the influx of submissions and sheer number of those seeking an H-1B, the US government has implemented a lottery system for all the qualifying applications received after April 1st and/or when the issue number for the year is exceeded.
3. Secure the offer of employment
The way the application is structured and intended, you must have a formal offer of employment in order to submit for an H-1B visa. This could take the form of an official offer letter of employment for a company that requires you to work from a physical location in the United States and requires someone with your specific degree and/or skill set to fill the role.
4. No fooling around (pun intended) but April 1st is THE deadline
April 1 is THE day to apply, this is when the new numbers open up and if you miss that day, you miss the whole H-1B train. We’ll say it again, April 1st, no exceptions, mark your calendars! It’s also important to note, submission it is not a guarantee of approval.
5. Hurry up and wait
Once your application is submitted, it can take up to four months to receive an answer regarding the approval of your application. There are exceptions, for example you may elect to pay additional government fees to rush your application and you could receive an answer in as few as 15 business days. Given this range in timing, it’s best to make sure that your employer or potential employer as may be the case knows that it may take several months before you find out if you have the visa.
Of course, this post is by no means all inclusive and comprehensive for the entirety of the H-1B process; for a deeper dive and to discuss your specific case and situation please reach out to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. Feel free to drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.