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H1B Visa

If you don't have a job waiting for you back in your home country, you might consider looking for work here in America. Why not use everything you've learned about American culture?

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What is the H1B visa?

The H1B visa may be issued to foreigners who want to work in the United States, provided that they meet certain requirements. If you want to work in the U.S. after you graduate, your employer will need to apply for an H1B visa before you may officially start working.

Is an H1B visa applicable to your situation?

To be considered an H1B applicant you must have at least a degree from a four-year college or 10 years of work experience in fields related to the work you will be performing in the U.S. You need to find a company to hire you for a position directly related to your degree/experience, issue you an offer letter, and sponsor your H1B status, which costs your employer $610.

Your employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor, which attests to the fact that you will be paid what is considered by the Department of Labor or an independently published survey a prevailing wage, or higher, in the geographic area for the position you have been offered.

The process of getting an H1B visa might take anywhere from a few months to a year depending on the quota the U.S. government has issued. If you are included in the current year's quota, usually you can get your H1B visa in three or four months. Otherwise you might have to wait until the next year to be included in that quota.

Filing the application for an H1B

The process of filing an H1B visa application is quite complicated. You or your employer needs to hire an immigration lawyer to file the H1B application and to take care of all the legal issues regarding your work and tax status. The cost for an immigration lawyer is often $1500 or more.

Expiration Issues

Usually an H1B visa is good for three years. After the original H1B expires you can apply for one extension, which will last another three years.

During the time you hold the H1B you have a right to change your job. However, the process of changing your H1B from one company to another will take time. Also, switching jobs does not affect the time left on your original H1B. For example, if you are employed by a company for one year, and you switch to a second company, you still only have two years remaining on your H1B.

Helpful tips

If your potential employer is not familiar with the H1B visa application process, try to downplay the complications of it. Becoming knowledgeable about the process is to your advantage: you can explain necessary steps to take, and assure your employer that the process is straightforward. You or your employer can pay for an immigration attorney to take care of the paperwork.

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