H-1B frequently asked questions
Q. Can the H1B employee work at different sites?
A. Yes, but a separate Labor Condition Application must be made for each site at which the employee will be working (though there is a limited exception for short-term assignments at different sites within the same Metropolitan Statistical Area).
Q. Can employment/contracting agencies sponsor H1B visas?
A. Yes, but remember the sponsor has to pay the prevailing wage whether or not they can find employment for the alien.
Q. How many H1B visas are available each year?
A. 65,000 for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2012. However, there are 20,000 additional H-1B visas available as an exemption from the 65,000 quota. These are reserved for people who have graduated from a U.S. university with at least a Masters degree and have other skills and experience in demand.
Research institutions and universities may also offer positions and petition for H-1B visas beyond all caps. People that may qualify for such positions have very unusual skills, education and experience, so it is rare that petitions are made beyond the official caps.
Q. What happens when the annual quota is reached?
A. USCIS announces a cutoff date once the annual quota is reached. Petitions filed before the cutoff date, but after the quota has been used up, will be held for processing the following October. Petitions submitted after the cutoff date will be returned to the petitioner without consideration.
Q. What are the government fees involved in obtaining an H1B visa, and who pays them?
A. The USCIS filing fee is currently US$325, which must be paid by the sponsoring employer. In addition to the filing fee, the USCIS imposes a Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of US$ 500. For H1-B visa applications, the USCIS charges a fee of approximately USD$2,000 for companies that have less than 25 employees. For company has more than 25 employees USCIS charges approximately USD$2,750. Finally, consular visa processing usually involves a charge of approximately $105 in local currency. Prevailing Wage Determinations and Labor Condition Applications are free of government charges.
Q. How long does the process take?
A. On average 3-6 months in total, depending on the USCIS Regional Service Center processing the application - unless using Premium Procession.
Q. Is it possible to speed up the process.
A. Yes. You can pay USCIS an extra fee of $1,225 for Premium Processing. This guarantees USCIS will adjudicate the petition in 15 days or notify the petitioner if more evidence is needed.
Q. Can the alien come to the USA on a visitor visa or visa-waiver while the H1B petition is being processed?
A. This is possible but not advisable, and under no accounts should the alien risk putting in jeopardy the issue of an H1B visa by engaging in anything that might be construed as work, as this may lead to the alien being accused of visa-fraud either on entry to the US with a visitor visa/visa-waiver or when applying for an H1B visa at the US consulate in their own country.
Q. If I sponsor an alien worker for an H1B, do I have to employ him/her for the full period of the visa's validity?
A. No, but if you dismiss the worker before the H1B visa expires you are responsible for his/her reasonable costs of return transportation to their home country. You will probably not be responsible for such costs for his or her dependants, however.
Q. Can the H1B alien's spouse/children work or study in the US.
A. Dependents of the H1B alien are granted H-4 visas, which are not employment-authorized. Thus they cannot work unless their prospective employer unless they can obtain a work visa in their own right. H-4 dependents may, however, undertake study in the USA.