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The H-1B Visa has become a somewhat mythical visa category over the years. It’s the visa everybody wants and it’s the visa everybody pays attention to. The laws regarding the H-1B Visa constantly change and concerned candidates should stay informed and updated as much as possible.

So what, officially, is the H-1B Visa? The H-1B Visa allows foreign workers to enter the U.S. and work in a variety of fields. These fields are various and range from Architecture and Engineering to Medicine and Health. The H-1B Visa offers a wide range of employment possibilities and is a substantial first step toward permanent immigration.

The job you apply for must demand at last a U.S. Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalence. The visa is not self-petitioned, which means you will need an employer to sponsor you. You can stay in the U.S. for up to six years, after which you are required to leave the U.S. for at least one year before being eligible again.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S. under the H-4 status. They are not permitted to work, unless they personally qualify for a work visa.


As stated earlier, the H-1B visa is not self-petitioned. You must first get in touch with a U.S. employer who will offer you employment. This employer should file a petition with the INS on your behalf.

The employer must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) certified by the Department of Labor. They must also show that you are qualified for the proposed position, and that the job falls under the classification of a specialty occupation.

After wage conditions are met, the employer will submit the LCA form to the Department of Labor. After verified, accepted and certified, the LCA form will be returned to the employer.

The employer should then submit the form to INS. Other documents required include proof of your expertise, the type of work you will be involved in and your employer’s professional credentials.

The employer must file-in Form I-129 (Petition for Non-immigrant worker) with the INS office which has jurisdiction over the location of employment. This should include a base fee of $110, plus $1,000 for H-1B petitions. Employers seeking exemption from the $1,000 fee should file-in Form I-129H.

After approval, INS will send Form I-797 (Notice of Action) to your employer. Your employer should then send you all requried documents (see below). You will then be able to apply for the visa at the U.S. consulate in your country.


Both you and your employer are required to submit documents for the H-1B Visa. The following documents are to be supplied by you:

  • A filled-in visa application Form OF-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • Form I-797 (The Notice of Action). This petition should be sent to you by your employer.
  • Proof that your academic and work qualifications are equivalent to that which is necessary for obtaining the visa.
  • Copies of your academic records.
  • A resume and recommendation letters from your previous employers.
  • Proof of any membership you have in relevant trade or professional organizations.
  • A letter from your employer detailing the job and its requirements.
  • Your employer will send the following documents to you:
    • Form I-797, The Notice of Action.
    • A copy of Form I-129.
    • A copy of the approved LCA.
    • A copy of the letter the employer wrote to the Consular General at the U.S. consulate in your country.
    • A copy of the letter the employer wrote to the INS.
    • A letter of sponsorship/appointment.
    • A tax return statement of his/her business.


Download Immigration Forms at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

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