It amazes me how soon the H1B Visa seasons fly by…while some are still waiting for their H1B petition decision due to RFEs… With H1B lottery situations since year 2013 (Read H1B Cap reach Dates History from 2000) , careful planning will let you avoid all the last minute issues. With the amount of applications received over the past few years, H1B lottery is definitely on the cards. This article covers step by step process on how to apply for H1B visa and help you understand the process for better planning.
What is the Process to Apply for H1B visa Application with USCIS?
Usually, USCIS will start accepting applications from April 1st. Depending on the year, if it falls on Sunday, it can be either April 2nd or 3rd So, if you plan to apply for H1B for new fiscal year quota to work in US, you need to be ready and find some company to file H1B application for you by this date. If I were to summarize the process in three simple steps, here are those.
- Search for H1B Sponsors that meet your criteria.
- Apply for jobs at these companies that can sponsor you work visa.
- Work with the employer and have your petition filed for new fiscal year quota.
Now, let me break it down by timeline so that you can plan well for H1B visa season start date. I will include the relevant articles for each of the sections so that you can start to read them and plan for the same.
Step by Step Guide for H1B visa petition filing with USCIS with Details at Each step
Below is an indicative timeline for you planning…don’t worry, if you are behind, this is to give you just an idea. You know, the best practice timeline 😉
There are some changes for the H1B filing process with the introduction of the H1B Registration Process , with an additional step of having registrations submitted before submitting the actual petition. Irrespective of that, the overall high level process remains the same.
Month – Dates
H1B Process Activities
|January 1st to February 15th||The primary activity for the next 45 days is to identify the list of companies that can sponsor you H1B visa and then apply for jobs at those companies.|
How to find and get the H1B Sponsors List?
One of the things you should do is create a simple list of the companies. We have H1B Sponsors Database that may be used to do that. You can search by City, Zip code or Job title and create the list based on your interest. You can read article How to find H1B Visa Sponsors.
Applying for Jobs – Get offer letters, Start Conversations
Your primary goal is to get as many interviews and clear them to go to offer letter stage.
|February 15th to 31st|
Salary Negotiations, Verifying H1B Sponsors, Job Search.
Once you are in mid-February, you should be getting close to decision on what company you should be going for.
Read the articles :
Get your Documents for H1B Petition Filing :
While all of this process is going on, get all the documents you would require for the filing of H1B petition. You would need information like education transcripts, degree certificates, documents for job experience like experience letters, etc. For full list, read article H1B Visa Petition Filing Check list.
|February 21st – 28th|
Decision Time of Company
You need to finalize the company that you would take the offer from and go ahead with them for H1B Sponsorship. You need to look at things like Green Card Sponsorship while you make the decision, if you plan to stay in US for longer time. If you can make a decision early the better, so that you can work with attorney and file it beforehand.
|March 1st – 7th|| The sooner you make the decision, the better for you as immigration attorneys are loaded with work during these couple of months and they would appreciate you working with them early.Send Documents to Attorney. Work with your employer and send the documents to the attorney that they are working with…sometimes, the in-house team would file it as well. Usually, all the scan copies would be sufficient, no need to send any originals. Read article on What NOT to give to H1B Employer to file petition.|
Attorney files for LCA: Before one can apply for H1B petitions, there needs to be an LCA filed, your attorney will file the Labor Condition Application (LCA) with US Department of Labor (DOL). This can take a day or a week depending or load and system issues.
|March 8th – 31st||Once you send the documents off, your job is technically done. Your job is to check with attorney and ensure that they have all the relevant documents for filing. They may be busy and not touch your file…it is your job to keep tabs on situation and check with them proactively.Typically, the attorney plans for on-time delivery by working with shipping companies like FedEx. You can ask for tracking number for tracking purposes.|
|April 1st – Unknown||This would be the most painful time waiting for H1B application numbers, lottery selected status, and decisions….Just stay calm and hope things go well…|
Did I miss any step ? What is your experience planning ? Share your thoughts.