H-1B - Special Occupation (Full time job in the US)

After you graduate from US colleges or universities, you are given a chance to get a US working experience up to 12 months, depending on the OPT time that you have left. If you and your employer want to continue your employment, your employer need to file a petition to change your status in the US from F-1 (student / exchange visitor) to H-1B (non-immigrant specialty worker).

If you are under J-1 visa and working under AT, you may file for a waiver to change your status to H-1B. Please contact your RO for more information.

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H-1B is a non-immigrant classification used by an alien who will be employed temporarily in a specialty occupation or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability. (Source: USCIS, 2007)


Important fact

One very important note for you is that the current H-1B cap per fiscal year is limited to only 65,000 (6,800 out of that 65,000 are reserved for citizen of Chile/Singapore under the US-Chile/Singapore Free Trade Agreements). Due to this limited cap, the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004 gives a cap-exempt for the first 20,000 H-1B petition filed on behalf of alien with US master degree or higher.
It means that as of 2004, in every fiscal year, the maximum number of alien that will be granted an H-1B status is only 85,000 aliens (58,200 + 6,800 + 20,000 = 85,000).
You will have to compete with students from all over the world who study in the US and want to get an H1-B status.

The good news is that, there is no annual cap for those of you who are employed at:

  • An institution of higher education, or

  • A related or affiliated nonprofit entity, or

  • A nonprofit research organization, or

  • A governmental research organization

(Source: USCIS, 2007)

Therefore, it is highly advisable that you start discussing about this issue when you start your employment or even during the job interview.


How to file a petition to get an H-1B status?

Technically your employer should file the petition (I-129 petition forms), but based on our experience, we suggest you to hire a good immigration attorney to file your petition for you. Those attorneys are more knowledgeable regarding the latest immigration rule and regulation, which you or your employer might overlook.

If you hire an attorney, of course a certain amount of attorney fee will occur, and normally, the better the attorney, the more he / she will charge you. Some companies pay the attorney fee for you, but if not you need to pay it out of your pocket. However, it is important to hire a good attorney as getting an H-1B status is also very important to you. If you want to learn more on hiring an attorney, please visit this link.


What documents should I prepare along with the I-129 petition forms?

If you hire an immigration attorney, he / she will tell you all the documents that you need to submit. As a general guidance, you need to submit these documents along with your I-129 petition form.

  • Labor certification (condition)

  • Copy of Job Offer letter signed by you (the beneficiary of the petition) and your company’s representative.

  • Copy of all of your diplomas (must be in English or translated into English by an authorized translator)

  • Resume

  • Copy of passport (identification page and visa page),

  • Copy of I-94 form

  • Copy of first page of selected publications authored by the beneficiary indicating journal name and author’s name (if applicable)

  • I-797 approval notices (if applicable)

(Source: uakron.edu, 2007)


How much is the petition for H-1B status will cost me?

USCIS Filing fee: $190

Fraud Prevention and Detection fee: $500

American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act fee:

  • $1,500 (if your employer employ more than 25 full-time employee)

  • $750 (otherwise)

Total cost paid to USCIS: $1,440 - $2,190

In addition, if you hire an attorney to file your petition, you need to pay a certain amount of attorney fee.

Some companies sponsor these fees and some others don’t. You should consult with your Human Resource department regarding this issue.


How long does the process take?

After your company or your attorney file the petition, you should get a receipt from the USCIS in about one month, but this receipt only indicates that the USCIS already receive your petition. The adjudication process itself takes about 3 -6 months. However, if you want to expedite the process, you can pay an additional $1,000 fee using a separate check. Premium process takes only 15 days.


More information?

For more information regarding H-1B visa please visit the USCIS website.


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