H1B Visa Myths and Misconceptions

Like many complex government processes in a foreign country, obtaining and working in the US on an H1B visa is surrounded by misinformation.  Unfortunately, many applicants get their facts about the H1B visa from family or friends, and the source is often “someone they heard about”, rather than real solid information about the actual program rules and requirements.

Here are five of the most common myths and misconceptions that one might hear about securing and working with an H1B visa.

Myth #1:  The H1B Visa ‘Stamping’ Requirement

One often hears mention of the need to have one’s H1B visa ‘stamped’, or rather re-validated when making a border crossing.  This is really not true, since the visa is valid for an initial three years, does not require a periodic exit from the country (as a tourist visa does), and is good for multiple entries for visits to the home country.  

The term ‘stamping’ is also accurately used in some circles to indicate that your visa requirements are met and the H1B will be issued and placed in your passport.  No further validation is required after that.  However as discussed in another article, you could be questioned upon re-entry if you have copies of fake resumes or job histories in your possession e.g. stored on your phone.

It is true that when you go through immigration, they will update your I-94 form with your new H1B visa status, but that is merely a border patrol process, having nothing to do with the validity of your right to enter and work in the US.

Myth #2:  The H1B Visa Can be ‘Renewed’

H1B visas are not ‘renewed’, they are ‘extended’ under USCIS rules for up to an additional three-year period.  Although the term ‘H1B visa renewal’ is frequently used, that implies that you are able to refresh your original H1B visa and re-set the clock, but in most cases six years is the maximum work stay allowed through a valid H1Bextension.

Myth #3:  There is an H1B Visa ‘Minimum Wage’

Because H1B visas are limited to ‘specialty occupations’ which can pay more than unskilled positions, some applicants wrongly believe that there is a higher H1B minimum wage in the US that an employer must pay.  There is no special minimum wage across all industries and job types for H1B visa holders.  However, there is a requirement that an employer pay at least the ‘prevailing wage’ for the industry, position type and location, but this will vary widely between companies, even for the same job type.

Myth #4:  H1B Visa Premium Processing Helps Your Chances in the Lottery

The use of H1B premium processing (which can shorten the H1B visa review time to 2 weeks) is useful for late applicants wanting to meet the filing deadline.  But, paying the extra fee for H1B premium processing does not increase the chances of approval or give the petition any special status.  

Myth #5:  If You Submit Your Petition While Inside the US You Have a Better Chance of Approval

If you submit your credentials and documents as part of the H1B visa petition at a US consulate in your home country, your chances of approval are exactly the same as if you were in the US.  This is why they offer the consulate interview process to help verify your information, and you can wait comfortably at home while the petition is being reviewed.

As you can see, most of the myths about H1B visas stem from either misleading information about how to get an “edge” in the lottery, or that the visa is somehow treated like a tourist visa requiring renewals, border runs and ‘stamping’ to confirm ongoing validity.

Don’t let hope and fear be your guide in looking for an H1B visa position and applying.  We can help you learn the facts about the program and where to locate a sponsor for a position.

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  • December 28th, 2016
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