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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What is an H-1B visa?

The H-1B visa enables US employers to hire foreign professionals for a specified period of time. The H-1B visa program is the primary method for bringing in professional level foreign employees to the USA. This program allows workers in specialty occupations to work in the US for up to a total of six years. One of the things that makes this visa so desirable is that, unlike many other nonimmigrant visa categories, it is a "dual intent" visa. This means that a visa will not be denied simply because a person has intentions to become a permanent resident. The assumption is that if for some reason the permanent residency petition is denied, the person would still have the intention to return home.

Another advantage to the H-1B category is that the employer does not need to demonstrate that there is a shortage of qualified US workers and, consequently, a labor certification process can be avoided. Aside from documenting that the position offered is in a specialty occupation and that the employee has the appropriate credentials for the job, the employer need only verify that the H-1B worker is being paid the prevailing wage for the work being performed and that employment of a foreign worker is not harming conditions for US workers.

Qualifying occupation categories are jobs in the fields of computer science, health care, university teaching, engineering, law, accounting, financial analysis, management consulting, architecture and scientific research positions.

The length of time that a worker can have an H-1B visa is usually an initial period of up to three years. The initial visa can then be extended one time for up to a combined total of six years.
Other regulatory provisions permit;
(1) the employer to request a period of less than three years,
(2) the employee to be employed on a part-time basis
(3) the employee to work for more than one U.S. Employer simultaneously.

The worker's family may also be permitted to live in the U.S. during the period that the H-1B visa is in effect, but can not be a paid employee while on an H4 visa.
During the term of the H-1B visa the employee can also apply for permanent residency. This is called "Dual Intent", and is a privilege some other U.S. visas do not enjoy.

The Number of H1B visas issued
The number of H-1B visas issued each year is subject to a cap that is determined by Congress. The cap for fiscal year 2001 is currently set at 107,500, but pending legislation before Congress is expected to raise the cap to 200,000 H-1B visas because of the current tight labor market in the U.S. and the need for additional qualified personnel.

The applications that are approved for each fiscal year receive an employment start date of October 1 (the first day of the fiscal year).
Therefore, the applications approved for fiscal year 2000 had an employment start date of October 1, 1999. The cap of 115,000 new H-1B visas for fiscal year 2000 was reached in March of 2000. Applications for fiscal year 2001 (with an employment start date of October 1, 2000) are currently being prepared.

Required Documentation for H1B visa holder
High School Diploma (only required if no college level of education has been attained.)
College diplomas (Associate, Bachelor, Master, Ph.D)
College transcripts/academic records
Certificate/diploma of training courses in IT
Evidence of license or professional membership in IT
Employment verification in the form of retrospective references (these must correlate with information in CV/Resume)
Current CV/Resume describing in detail employment history including: name & address of employer, job title, month/year commenced employment & month/year concluded employment, type of business, duties performed, full/part time.
Identity page in passport plus any pages evidencing current or expired US Visas

Documents to get H-4 VISA For the dependent of H-1B VISA holder
Passport
VISA Copy of your Spouse
H1B approval notice - Copy
Letter from the current employer
Marriage certificate (If spouse)
Marriage album (If spouse )

I-94 card
As an immigrant, when you arrive in the U.S., an arrival/departure record card is issued and placed in your passport next to your visa. This is called an I-94 card that permits a foreigner to be in the U.S. (as opposed to visa that provides the right to travel in and out of the U.S. in a certain status, eg. H-1B status). The U.S. immigration official at the U.S. port of entry will review the foreigner�s immigration documents (eg. H-1B visa) and stamp the I-94 card with an expiry date consistent with the visa expiry. It should be noted that the immigration official has the power to limit a foreigner�s stay irrespective of the visa expiration. The I-94 card is removed when a foreigner departs the U.S.

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