How to Apply for H1B Visa 2017 Process Steps

How to Apply for H1B Visa Application with USCIS? Process? Plan?

In H1B Visa by KumarUpdated : 70 Comments

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.

  1. Search for H1B Sponsors that meet your criteria.
  2. Apply for jobs at these companies that can sponsor you work visa.
  3. 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 15thThe 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

  • Once you have the list, your goal is to apply jobs at these H1B Sponsoring companies. I do not know, how much of it would work, if you are outside of the US, but the idea is to apply jobs and get interview calls.
  • If you are a student already in US and doing a co-op or internship at a company, you should initiate the H1B process at the company. If you realize that the current company does not offer that option, time to make a decision and switch soon.

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.

  • Try to negotiate the best offer you can get at a company. It is all pretty transparent. You can see the details of a job on how much it pays in the H1B Sponsors Database or
  • You should also verify the companies’ credentials like how many were approved, denied at least from LCA perspective. You can use our H1B sponsors database or any other third party site. Do NOT pay for the information. It is free as per public disclosure and some websites charge money for that…that’s why we have build the H1B sponsors database to help you avoid paying for such sites.
  • You should also try and talk to few people who are part of a company that you plan to join so that you get idea on the reality.

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 – 31stOnce 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 –  UnknownThis 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.


Other Articles

Comments ( 70 )

  1. Ratna Yadav

    Hi, I got H1B visa in 2006 from company where I was working that time. I had not travelled on H1B any time on that visa and this visa got expired on 2009 unused. I left this company also in 2010 from whom I got this visa.
    I wanted to check, will this visa still use for job in USA by transferring to some other company and exempt from cap of current year. If yes what I need to do? Please reply

    1. TKay

      Dear Ratna,
      It’s my understanding that your case falls under the Remainder Time clause listed on the USCIS’s website, which states that any unused time (of a total of 6 yrs allowed on H-1B) can be used later. And this is cap exempt in the year you’d like to work in the USA and an employer is willing to transfer your VISA from the previous employer that you worked at in 2006.


      1. Matty

        Hi I’m looking to see what info I need with my Hb1 visa. I am currently working for the Marriott hotel and my employer are willing to file my hb1 visa. I don’t know where is the time I need to start file my visa. And also my J1 visa will be expire in June this year. Please help

        1. administrator

          They need to file H1B this year in March. Ask your company to work with an immigration attorney and let them take care of it.

          1. MICHAEL

            Hi. Good day.

            I need clarification pls. Apart from my employer filing the H1B petition, do I need to do the registration on my own? For instance, going to the embassy or USCIS website to do the initial registration.

  2. Sav


    I’m currently on my OPT working for a company [non-profit] that is looking to keep me, but my visa ends in July 2019. I am a tad confused on the H1-B process and a lot of websites end up contradicting each other.

    When do I need to send in all of the paper work?

    1. administrator

      If you work for a non-profit research, Education Institution or University, then you are cap exempt, then you can apply anytime and you are not subject to normal H1B cap. More details on USCIS Website ( Look for “(13) Cap Exemptions Pursuant to ” on the page ) If your non-profit does not fall under cap exempt, then you can only apply in April Next year.

  3. Santiago

    Hi Saurabh,
    It is my understanding that the H-1B visa filing is handled by the employer. So, is there any requirement that I have to physically be in the US before the April 1st deadline when the employer files the H-1B visa petition? I have to leave the country for a short time, and won’t be in the US until a few days later.


    1. administrator

      No, you do not have to be in US for someone to file H1B visa. Many companies sponsor H1Bs for candidates, who have never visited USA.

  4. Raphael Jr N. Catorce

    Hi good day i have a question. I have employer now in USA they employed me as cashier but in the contract it stated there that i will be the one to shoulder the visa and work permit. Only plane ticket and accommodation the employer will provide and now they said i have to process through immigration aid. And the immigration aid ask for insurance and application fee plus now the immigration aid told me that the consular requiring me 7553usd atleast as proof that i can support myself in USA until my salary come. Now my question is, is it really the process in h1b visa?

  5. Anna

    Thank you for the great article and the Q&A section.
    I got offered for the summer internship in 2019. If my employer is willing to file an H1B, can they only apply in April 2020? If my OPT ends in August 2020, do I still get to stay in the US and wait for an H1B decision?
    Thank you in advance for your time.

  6. Aaina

    Thank you for valuable information.

    I want to know that can i apply anytime for H1B after getting any job in USA?I am in final semester of my masters , studying in california

  7. Devesh Kumar


    I want to apply for 2019 H1 B green card visa. Can you please tell me the month & date for applying the VISA of FY 2019.

    A quick response would be highly appreciated.


  8. shivakumar

    Your Comment *hi saurab,
    I’m an MBA from India. all I need to know is, does an MBA meet the h1b specialty occupation category??

    1. administrator

      It depends. In general for H1B, you need a bachelor’s or higher degree and the work has to be specialist. Having an MBA does not automatically make you eligible for H1B, it depends on the job you are applied for…You can read at rules for H1B

  9. Royan

    Hi Experts
    I’m planning to travel to the US (Houston) as a tourist and afterward i look for a job in order to get H1B visa .
    Is finding a H1B sponsor in oil and gas industry and then converting the visitor visa to H1B possible and probable?

    Thank you in advance

  10. jaydutt

    hello i have C1D visa which is valid till there . is there any procedure where i can get H1 D for work in u.s.a on land based job….

  11. Ethan

    Hi, Saurabh,
    I has just got a job by my OPT, they said that they can sponsor H1B for me, but they haven’t do that before. They don’t know how to do that and what are the requirements for me and the company (this is a non-profit organization). Can you tell me a detail about these requirements? (I didn’t see my organization in our database tool).
    Btw, I gonna apply for FY 2018 but my OPT will over on FEB 2018, is it too late to apply now?
    Thanks so much Saurabh

    1. administrator


      It is too late to apply for FY-18. You can apply in FY-19 next year but your OPT would be over by April 2018. You will be in the 60 day grace period, which grants you cap-gap to stay inside US but no work authorization.

      BTW, your employer is a non-profit organization. You should explore the option of cap-exempt H-1 as that can be applied anytime and has no quota. It would better for the employer to hire an immigration attorney who can review the company profile to confirm that cap-exempt petition can be applied and processed.

  12. Eddie

    Hi Expert,

    If i would like to apply a job in US this year end/ early 2018, when should I file my H1B?

    Is there any chance to file H1B other than the cap date 1st Apr 2018?

    What is the duration that the H1B process to grant a working visa for candidate?

    Appreciate the advice!

  13. Shehryar

    Hello, Awesome article, I have an important question!
    How many companies can apply for me? Is there any limit or it should be only one?
    I heard that 6 companies can apply for one person is that true? If yes, Will it increase my chances?
    Also, about attorney, who should hire attorney and who will be taken care of attorney’s duty?

  14. Brajesh

    Hi Saurabh,
    Im planning to attend my first H1B interview in Nov-210 ( Ihave approved petition).
    How ever a 9 years ago i got rejected for F1 twice. will this have any impact on my current H1 B interview. If VO asks what was the reason for F1 rejection,what shall be my answer?. appreciate your valuable comments…


  15. raj

    I’m planning to apply for H1B in 2017. Will I be rejected under this case “applicant does not meet the h1b specialty occupation category” if i have only one year of experience in IT field(ORACLE) and a bachelor’s degree?

  16. Shankar Velli

    I will be graduating in May 2017 from a US university. Assuming I get a job with a US company, I will be on OPT and earliest my employer can file for my H1B will be April 2018. Am I right in this understanding?

    Is it possible that my prospective employer confirms my employment offer before I graduate (say in Feb 2017 or so) and thus able to file for my H1B in April 2017 even before I graduate?

    1. administrator

      Shankar Velli,

      An employer can file H-1 for you in non-Advanced degree cap in April 2017. You won’t qualify for 20K quota but for the general 65K quota.

      An employer can file H-1 for you in Advanced degree cap as early as April 2018.


    Hi Saurabh/Kumar,

    My last year H1 process went through a big disappointment like this:
    April 13 th 2015 – Received case
    August 21st 2015 – RFE raised
    November 16th 2015 – RFE received
    March 3rd 2016 – Denied

    1) My question is, will there be any consideration this year as my case was already picked last year?

    2) If I have to go through the process normally as fresh candidate with other sponsor, will there be any influence of my last year denial on this year’s application?

    1. administrator


      1. No impact
      2. No impact as long as denial wasn’t due to submission of false information/documents related to you.

    2. Vibhu

      Hi Saurabh/Kumar/WEEJAIII,
      I am looking to go for H1 B for my wife in FY 2017, I just want to check if any consultant files my H1 b and later they are not able to clear RFE, does USCIS return back any bucks? if not, would that include 4k also(if applicable as per new rule)

  18. Maggy

    Hi Saurabh,

    I am new to this forum and thanks for clarifying most of our associate queries. I have come across one of the consultancy through linkedin and they are charging $1000k for documentation. They will arrange interviews in US and i will have to take phone calls from india. if selected then employer will file for H1B. I am not sure whether it is genuine or fake consultancy because there are many such consultancy comming up. Need your expert advise on this! how to find whether consultancy is genuine or fake.

    Consultant is asking for money first and then he told he will arrange interviews.Please do provide your advise. Anybody in this forum can help me on this.

    1. Shreya

      Same is the case with me.

      A consultancy firm called – Wireclass has asked me to pay $1100 for Training and then they will interview me with the Client. Only when I clear the interview and get theh offer letter, will Wireclass file my H1b.

      Is Wireclass a trustworthy company to go with?

    2. administrator


      Here are the players in this – this consulting company/agency (say A), the actual H-1B sponsor (say B) and the end-client (say C).

      A takes initial money from you to introduce to B. When it comes to actual filing, B will ask for more money. B may or may not have contact w/ C and this could cause the petition to get approved or denied.

      If you don’t get selected in lottery, USCIS will return the entire money to B. However, you will have to run from pillar to post asking for refund from A and B. They may become untraceable or put blame on each other.

      This is a typical scenario and may or may not happen in your case. However, proceed with caution and ask them about all the financial arrangement. As always, paying for H-1B is illegal and it’s employer’s (B) duty.

      1. maggy

        Thanks Saurabh for your quick response. I was also refering to Wireclass consultancy. If Visa is not picked in lottery then consultancy will not refund any money that is the terms and condition as per wireclass policy. How can we make sure whether they have filed for H1B or not? Will there be any receipt number provided or just have to believe with their words?

        1. administrator


          Not necessarily applicable to this company, but there are companies who collect money and then not file the petition at all. Easy money.

          There is no way to be certain that they have applied for your H-1 petition. If you are not selected in lottery, USCIS will send a rejection letter while refunding the fees, which will contain your name (and hence the proof of applying for H-1). However, it is up to employer whether to share it w/ you or not.

  19. Abhishek

    One of consultant is filing H1B visa for me this year. He has offered fixed salary of 80k $ per year. This will be valid for one year. Is this salary good enough for same life style I live in India. Just to compare I get around 22 lac/annum in India.

    1. administrator


      It depends upon your location. In one of the expensive places like New York or SF Bay Area, this may be on the lower side. But it may be ok in one of less expensive places where state income tax is also low.

      Additionally, if you have a family then it further reduce your savings.

  20. Raj

    Hi Experts,
    My H1 – 2016 was rejected in Dec due to “applicant does not meet the h1b specialty occupation category”. My company is willing to file my H1 – 2017 again.
    1)Will previous rejection have an influence on the decision this year?
    2)What does the reject reason “applicant does not meet the h1b specialty occupation category” actually mean? I am BE mechanical with 10 yrs of IT experience and my application was filed for the role of LEAD. Many of my frds who are also BE mech got their visa approved. It beats me why mine was rejected.


    1. administrator


      H-1B was denied due to your profile/education/experience. Unless you address those issues, future petitions may meet the same outcome.

      You need to show how your work experience makes you qualified for the offered position. This would include detailed experience letters, projects you worked upon, references or testimonies from clients/managers, trainings etc.

      I assume USCIS would have issued RFE for this. What was employer’s response to it?

      1. Raj

        Hi Saurabh,
        Yes there was an RFE for my petition and my company had responded. They had asked for all my education certificates and got an EE done. But I am not sure where they goofed up as they do not share the RFE responses with us.
        I have recently finished my MTech in Software Systems and hopefully it should help with my application this time if selected in lottery.


  21. Vinay

    Hi Saurabh,

    Quick question

    Is it possible/ ok for an H1B aspirant to proceed with two employers who would individually file two different applications simultaneously?
    In other words can I apply for an H1B with two different employers at the same time? Or USCIS has a mechanism to reject one of the applications if they find duplication.

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Vinay

      Got some information here

      However, it says that if one does file twp applications with different employers, both “may” get an RFE to explain (in case both are selected in the lottery).

      Any pointers please?

  22. Kush

    Hello – need advice…
    My current h1b application is in RFE status since August 21st…

    a. Can I apply for 2017 H1? If yes, what happens to the 2016 H1?
    b. Will 2017 H1 application be still counted under the quota OR quota exempt? (Since my application was already selected in 2016H1 quota OR gets denied)

    1. administrator


      1. Yes. 2016 application continues to be processed
      2. I assume 2017 petition will be filed only if 2016 petition is still pending. So it will be subject to cap as it would have to be filed that way. If 2016 petition gets approved, you can either withdraw 2017 petition (loss of money if it had made through the lottery) or let it get processed and approved.

        1. Kush

          Hello Saurabh – Appreciate your info! Quick Qn

          a) As my case was been selected in the lottery of H1 2016. Would my 2017 H1 case still be counted with the cap/quota?
          b) If H1 lottery is counted in 2016 & the case gets rejected. Can I file a new case without waiting for the annual H1b start date of April?

          1. administrator


            1. If 2016’s petition gets approved, then any future petitions can be filed as cap-exempt

            2. If 2016’s petition gets denied, then you have to go through the cap again i.e. subject to April 1 filing date

  23. H4toH1

    Hi Saurabh/Kumar,

    I got H1b stamped for myself and H4 stamped for my wife successfully in JAN 2016. . I will be travelling to USA shortly with my wife. We are planning to have baby this year. I also intend to file H1b for my wife this year in march 2016.

    Provided my wife gets selected in H1b lottery and gets COS from H4 to H1, this year by OCT 2016 , my questions are:-

    1. What will happen if my wife gets pregnant and cant work starting OCT 1st 2016?
    2. Should my wife again switch back to h4 from H1b?
    3. What is my best option? Should I wait for 2017?


    1. administrator

      There is a no magic list of documents for RFE-free processing. There is a list of required documents (passport, LCA, I-129, fees, education evaluation certificate) and there is a list of recommended documents which vary from case to case. This could include client/project details including MSA, SOW, client letter; employer documents like tax returns, other employees’ W-2 etc.

      Your attorney will have to review the case and gather the documents.

        1. administrator

          Once USCIS receives the petition and it makes through the lottery, they would issue 797C form. It will have your name and receipt number.

          If you don’t make through the lottery, then USCIS issues a lottery rejection letter. I am not 100% sure if it has applicant’s name or not.

          1. Babu

            Hi Saurabh,
            Thanks for the info. and one more thing- As we’re aware already H1B fee increased and its affected from this year. Now my question is – Is it applications pick up count also increased to 120,000 from 65000 in lottery???
            Also whats the last date to submit all the documents to USCIS??

          2. administrator


            Cap count is not increasing. It is still the same 65K + 20K

            The documents should reach USCIS before the cap is reached. There is 100% chance that it will be reached on the very first day. Historically they have accepted petitions for 5 days even if the cap is reached on first day (USCIS will confirm/deny the same for this year sometime in March). Your employer should plan to make it reach on April 1.

        2. babu

          Hi Saurabh,
          Please consider this doubt and waiting for your response-
          Ex:- Completed PG in 2009 and entered into IT industry 2011.
          My question – Is there any problem to apply H1B visa? if we have gab in between 1 or 2 yrs education and Job…

          As am aware, I don’t think its an issue. But need to double check with you.


          1. administrator


            Break in education doesn’t disqualify you from H-1. You should have at least 16 years of education including 4 years of US Bachelor’s equivalent.

          2. Babu

            Thanks Saurabh. I have 18 years of education…
            I am so happy and its really great place to clarifying all my queries…

            Thank you once again!!

          3. Babu

            Hi Saurabh,
            Just quick clarification – I have 4.6 yrs of IT Exp. and 10+2+3+3=18 yrs of education..Then I am eligible to apply H1B happily, rite??

  24. Reddy

    Hi Experts / advisers ,

    i am panning to apply H1B visa this time below are my queries can some one please help me to understand and plan for better . Thank you very much in advance for all your help.

    1. Do we required any duplicate transcript of individual mark sheets from JNTU. ( I am currently staying in Europe having all original mark sheets with me)
    2. there was any link that gives good list of consultancy/ Sponsors who are willing to file H1B visa for who are living outside of US.

    3. If i found sponsor and lucky to pick the my case in lottery do i need to attend the visa interview in US consulate in India or Europe where i currently staying .

    Thank you all,

    1. administrator

      1. You can submit copies of the originals you have. You don’t need to get duplicates issued from the college
      2. Don’t know any company to suggest
      3. You will have to check w/ US embassy in EU if you can attend there as these rules are specific to local embassies. If they say no, then you need to appear in India.

Leave a Comment

Comments Policy :
  • Comments are to drive conversation, add your thoughts, experiences, ask questions!
  • Do NOT write hate speech, swear words, or get into fight. Maintain etiquette
  • Enter your Name, valid Email, URL(optional - Facebook, LinkedIn profile URLs).
  • Your email will NOT be published. Do NOT post any phone numbers, email-ids
  • Do NOT post any links from other websites, unless official sites, University websites.
  • By submitting your comment, you agree to Term and Conditions of our website.