The United States grants H1B visa that allows people from other countries to work there. Commonly known as working visa, H1B can be granted to temporary workers. To obtain a H1B visa, an employer must offer the job to the candidate, and apply for the visa in the Immigration Department. Employers file a petition, known as work permit, that allows workers to obtain visa stamp and work in the USA.
To qualify for a H1B visa, applicants must fulfill certain requirements:
A successful relationship with their US employer (employee-employer)
- Their job must qualify as a specialty occupation, meaning a bachelor or higher degree is required for the job opening
- The position has to be related with the appropriate field of study of the applicant
- Applicants must be paid at least the actual wage for their occupation
- An H1B visa number must be available
Keep in mind that the limit for H1B visas is set at 65,000 each fiscal year. Additional 20,000 are available for people that have master’s degree from a US-based University.
Sample US H1B visa sticker stamped on a passport.
The fee for visa is set at $190. The fee can be paid via bank electronic payment, mobile payment (IMPS system), or over the counter cash payment. Once applicants pay the fee, they need to schedule an interview at the Consulate. At the moment, the average waiting time for a scheduled interview is 10 days, with processing time set at 8 working days.
Step by step guide to applying for your H1B visa
Step 1: Obtain a digital photograph required for the visa. Certain requirements apply: dimensions in the range of 600 x 600 pixels (minimum) and 1200 x 1200 pixels (maximum), color image (24 bits), image must be in JPEG format, image size must be less than 240 kilobytes. The image must contain full face, neck and shoulders of the applicant in frontal view with neutral expression and eyes open. Applicants must face the camera. The background should be plain, light colored. There should be no decorative items on the face of the applicant.
Photos or images must be:
- In color
- Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm and 35 mm) or 50% and 69% of the image’s total height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. View the Photo
- Composition Template for more size requirement details.
- Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
- Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
- Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
- With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
- Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis
- Uniforms should not be worn in your photo, except religious clothing that is worn daily.
- Do not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
- Headphones, wireless hands-free devices, or similar items are not acceptable in your photo.
- Effective November 1, 2016, eyeglasses are no longer allowed in new visa photos, except in rare circumstances when eyeglasses cannot be removed for medical reasons; e.g., the applicant has recently had ocular surgery and the eyeglasses are necessary to protect the applicant’s eyes. A medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner must be provided in these cases. If the eyeglasses are accepted for medical reasons:
- The frames of the eyeglasses must not cover the eye(s).
- There must not be glare on eyeglasses that obscures the eye(s).
- There must not be shadows or refraction from the eyeglasses that obscures the eye(s).
- If you normally wear a hearing device or similar articles, they may be worn in your photo.
Check out the photo examples.
Step 2: Complete a visa application online. When filling DS160 (the form for H1B visa) applicants must provide correct and truthful information. Once done, candidates should print the page and bring with them at next steps. The form can be completed within 30 minutes.
Step 3: Payment of fees. Applicants can pay the fee of $190 either electronically or as a bank transfer in cash at a Bank designated by the Consulate. The fee is valid for one year and must be paid before the interview is scheduled.
Step 4: make an appointment. Two appointments are required as part of the process. The first appointment is at the Offsite facilitation Center, where applicants must provide fingerprint and photograph, while the second is at the Consulate for an interview. The appointment can be scheduled online. Applicants are required to bring valid passport, visa application, receipt for the fee, and DS160 form at the scheduled appointment.
Step 5: Provide biometrics information at the offsite facilitation center. This is usually inside a US Embassy or Consulate near an applicant’s address. It is recommended that the said appointment is scheduled a day or two before the interview.
Step 6: Attend an interview at the American Embassy or Consulate located near the applicant’s home address. Applicants should bring all required documents for their interview. Sometimes, there can be a queue at the Consulate, and only visa applicants may enter. Electronic equipment is not allowed inside the Consulate. Applicants must pass security check, fingerprint verification, and then, go to the interview. The interview is conducted behind a glass window, and applicants are able to speak through a microphone. Candidates that pass the interview will get their visa on their home address within 3-4 working days.
Successful applicants will have their passports with visas attached mailed at a designated address provided. They are sometimes picked up from a designated courier service provider or from the US consular post. The applicant will be notified once the passport is ready for pick up.