How to Obtain an H-1B Visa

Out of the nearly 200 visas, there are two main categories of visas in the United States: immigrant and nonimmigrant. In the latter category, a temporary stay is expected, including work-related reasons. One of the ways that foreigners can work in the United States is through an H-1B visa. These were reasonably hard to come by when first introduced, but the cap on the amount that has been given has raised significantly over the years.

Through the rules of the H-1B visa, you have to be highly qualified in a specific field. This means having a bachelor’s degree-level education or experience in that field. An H-1B visa grants a three-year stay, though that time can be doubled if an exception is needed and meets all requirements. Let’s take a closer look at how to obtain one of these visas and some finer details that you need to know before applying.

Educational Requirements

Not every country will have what’s officially called a bachelor’s degree, but it’s required to at least have the equivalent to be accepted in most cases. Those that have furthered their education into having master’s or doctorate degrees are more likely to be considered first. A large majority of those that are granted an H-1B visa are those that have received several years of post-graduate education. Tech professionals, doctors, architects, etc., will all fall into this category.

Fashion Exception

While most of the successful applicants of an H-1B visa are working jobs that require years of education, there is one interesting exemption. Fashion models from outside of the United States are granted an H-1B visa for work, but it can’t just be any model with an Instagram page. Any applying models have to prove that they have a prominent career, but aren’t tied to the education requirements set forth by the US government. In fact, this is how former First Lady Melania Trump came to the United States originally.

Get Lucky

When all of the applications are sent in throughout the open season, the envelopes with these applications are placed into a lottery. The more highly educated applicants (master’s degree recipients) are given more chances for their envelopes to be drawn. There are two lottery drawings in total, with master’s degree-level entries placed into both. For those that have only a bachelor’s, the first lottery is their only chance of the year to get selected.

Find Work

To petition for an H-1B visa, you’ll have to have a job lined up for when you make it to the United States. Because of this, you should start applying for jobs before even considering an H-1B application. An employer will then be able to sign your petition to earn the visa, which goes a long way in being granted approval. The employer will fill out the necessary forms to get the ball rolling.

Have All Documents

There are a few forms and interviews that an applicant will have to go through to obtain an H-1B visa. From there, some important documents are needed. These include:

  • Previous and current passports
  • Proof of paid fees
  • Visa interview letter
  • Form I-129 receipt and copp
  • Form I-797 copy
  • Job description letter from employer
  • Proof of educational background

Apply Through US Embassy

The final step after qualifying, petitioning, and finding an employer is getting your United States Embassy or Consulate to sign off on you moving to the US for work. Each country will have different requirements to temporarily leave, so make sure that you know the process before getting too far into applying for an H-1B and paying the many fees that can pile up. Once accepted, you’ll be good to go and ready to work in the United States for at least three years and can start your path to becoming a US citizen.

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