H1B Visa: Step by Step Guide

It has been a busy year for the H1B visa program, with many new rule changes and pending legislation.  With all of this, it can be easy to overlook the fact that the H1B visa season is underway, and we want to give you a checklist of what you need to do to be ready.

Due to the fact that H1B visa regulations are being strictly enforced, it is recommended to get an early start on the process and makes sure that the position, wage level and documentation are all in compliance with existing rules.

Step One:  Find a Sponsor and Position with a US Company

Timeline:  Cap Positions – Now until March 1, 2018

Cap-exempt Positions – Anytime

Required:  A position that qualifies as a “specialty occupation” for H1B visas

If you need help finding a sponsor and position for your occupation, please search here.  It is recommended to apply for several different jobs.

Step Two:  Confirm the Job Offer and Compensation and Obtain Employment Letter

Timeline:  Within 30 Days

Required:  Position duties, dates of employment, supervisors, job location

Once you have received an offer and negotiated the salary, the sponsor will send you an Employment Letter to confirm the details.

Step Three:  Sponsor Submits Labor Certification Application

Timeline:  After Employment Letter Sent

Required:  Determine prevailing wage for position is being paid, and that no US worker is being replaced by the foreign worker.

This is an important step, and the prevailing wage rules are being strictly enforced.  Some wage levels require that the sponsor show the job was offered to US workers first.

Step Four:  Provide the Sponsor with All Documents Required for the Petition

Timeline:  ASAP

Required:  All specified documents for Form I-129

Make sure that the documents are all accurate and match the information on your resume.  Any inconsistencies or lacking information will result in a denial.

Step Five:  Sponsor Files the Petition and Pays the Fees

Timeline:  By April 1, 2018

Required: Form I-129, resume, degree certificates, experience evaluation, letter of support

For lottery positions, there is a deadline for acceptance of petitions by April 1, 2018.  The lottery will take place that week.

Step Six:  H1B Visa Interview at US Consulate

Timeline:  After the petition is sent and received by USCIS

Required:  Preparation for typical interview questions and copies of petition documents

The interview can be scheduled online, and in some locations, there is a wait time.

Step Seven:  Confirm if the Petition Has Been Selected in the Lottery

Timeline:  Several months

Required:  Receipt of notice of selection

It does take some time to have an H1B visa approved, but it is possible to check the status on the USCIS website.

Step Six:  Respond to Request for Evidence by USCIS

Timeline:  As soon as the RFE is received

Required:  Additional documentation and evidence of qualifications or experience

RFEs are on the increase, so both sponsors and applicants should be ready to provide any additional information.

Step Six:  Receive H1B Visa Receipt and Stamp in Passport at a US Consulate

Timeline:  Within 90 days prior to the job start date

Required:  Stamping must occur at the US Consulate

Step Seven:  Begin Work in the US

Timeline:  Anytime after October 1, 2018

Required:  Travel permitted 10 days prior to start date, with valid passport and H1B visa stamp

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  • December 11th, 2017
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