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

Many of the professionals planning to work in US need H1B visa. Due to the high demand for H1B, we continue to have H1B lottery for the last 7 years. You can check H1B Cap reach Dates History from 2000 to 2020 to get an idea of the demand. If you are a newbie trying to understand and plan for the H1B visa, it can be very confusing and you may get lost. Also, from H1B FY 2021 season, the process has changed slightly and we have H1B registration process as well. This article covers step by step process on how to apply for H1B visa with USCIS and help you understand the process for better planning.

Firstly, you need to understand, there are two things you need to work in America.

  • First one: Need H1B Visa approval from USCIS.
  • Second one : You take the H1B Visa approval from USCIS and then apply for US Visa at a US Consulate.

The below process covers the first part of getting H1B approval from USCIS as it is your first step in the H1B Visa Journey.

How to Apply for H1B visa with USCIS – Process, Steps

One key thing to note is that to work on H1B Visa, a company or employer need to sponsor you H1B Visa. You cannot apply for H1B Visa yourself. So, your main task is to find that employer, who can sponsor you H1B Visa.   If I were to summarize the process in three simple steps, here are those.

  1. Search for H1B Sponsors or Employer that meet your criteria.
  2. Apply for jobs at these companies that can sponsor you work visa.
  3. Work with employer and have your H1B petition filed.

Our first task is to find the H1B Sponsoring Companies.

How to find H1B Sponsoring Companies List?

The information on who has sponsored H1B Visas in the past is available in the form of Disclosure Data from USCIS and Department of Labor.  You can use our  H1B Sponsors Database or  H1BGrader.com to find such companies. You can search by City, Zip code or Job title and create the list of companies based on your interest.  You can read article How to find H1B Visa Sponsors. for more detailed instructions.  Also, if you know someone who can help you with references, that would be ideal.

Now that you know the list of companies, your job is to find jobs that fit your profile.

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.

Salary Negotiations, Verifying H1B Sponsors, Job Search.

Once you are at offer letter stage, 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 Glassdoor.com
  • 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 :

Decision Time of Company / H1B Sponsor

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. You can look at the Green Cards data that they sponsored as well to make that decision.

Once you are done with the final decision and get offer letter, now is the time to secure documents for H1B petition filing.  Before we go to filing, you need to be aware of important changes from Fiscal Year 2021 for H1B filing…

Change in H1B Visa Process from 2020 – Registration Process

For many years, until 2019, USCIS used to start accepting full H1B applications from April 1st. Depending on the year, if it falls on Sunday, it can be either April 2nd or 3rd. But, now from year 2020, USCIS is implementing the H1B Registration Rule  and there are two steps in the process.

  1. Employers Submitting Registrations for H1B Lottery
  2. Employer Submitting Actual H1B Application with USCIS.

As per new H1B Registration Process, USCIS starts accepting registrations from March 1st, to March 20th. For H1B Registrations, you do not need to submit a lot of documents. The employer only need the below details of employee

  • Legal Name (First, Middle and Last name)
  • Gender
  • Date of Birth
  • Country of Birth
  • Country of Citizenship
  • Passport Number

If your H1B Registration is selected, then your employer would know it and they will ask for additional documents for filing the full H1B application with USCIS.

Get your Documents for H1B Petition Filing :

If you get selected in H1B registration, you need to secure and get all the documents you would require for the filing of complete 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 Checklist. 

Send Documents to Employer / Attorney  :

Depending on your employer, you may need to send documents directly to employer or the attorney that they work with.  Work with your employer and send the documents to the attorney that they are working with…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.

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.   Below is what happens after you send off the documents to Attorney or Employer.

Filing LCA for H1B Visa:

Before the employer can file the H1B petition with USCIS, there needs to be an LCA filed for the position you got job, your attorney/ employer’s legal team will file the Labor Condition Application (LCA) with US Department of Labor (DOL). This can take a week or so for processing. Read  What is H1B LCA ? Salary Info, Why File ?

Filing of Complete H1B Petition with USCIS :

Once the LCA is approved, your attorney or employer will prepare the H1B package with all the required forms, supporting documentation and submit the complete H1B Petition with USCIS. Employers get 90 days from April 1st to file their H1B petition.

Waiting for H1B Petition Decision from USCIS

Once the H1B petition is sent, your waiting starts. If your H1B was filed as Premium Processing, you will get the decision in 15 days, if not it can take time. Sometimes, USCIS will suspend premium processing as well for the first few months. So, this all depends. You need to check with your employer on how it was filed like Premium or regular. You can read H1B Premium Vs Regular Processing time.  You need to follow up with your employer or attorney to get the status on your petition.  Usually, they will give you a receipt notice which has a number and you can track your H1B status online on USCIS website. Read How to Check H1B Status online on USCIS.gov

If your petition is approved, your employer would get the approval notice and they would share it with you.  That’s it.  You can read  Steps after H1B Visa Petition Approval , on the next steps.

What has been your experience filing H1B ? Share your thoughts in comments…


Other Articles


  1. Hi Kumar,

    My OPT just started in mid-February 2020 and it expires in mid-February 2021. Should my employer be sponsoring me this year and have my paperwork submitted by this April 1, 2020 or will I have to wait for next year to have my papers processed? Also, what happens if I miss the deadline date for this year?

    • Jane,
      Yes, they should process it this year. If you miss, then you will be in F1 grace period next year, if you have no STEM OPT, and will not get cap gap extension to continue working as your OPT will be expired.. Talk to your DSO and your employer on this….also, you cannot work after mid feb from next year…

  2. Hi Kumar,

    I know that starting 2020 the policy has been changed, and for that “up to 6 months before the actual start date,” if my start date is 10/1/2020, will I be able to enter into the lottery process this year in March or April?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Ivy,
      The process only changed for lottery, nothing other than that. Yes, that’s same. If you plan to work from October, you need to have registrations submitted from March 1st to March 20th. Check out home page for updates.

      • Hi Kumar,
        I am working on H4EAD and willing to apply for H1 next year. During my first year of EAD in 2018, I worked 4 months part time, 1.5 months full time on other, and 2 weeks again part time for the first employer, after that it’s full time with 3rd employer till now. Do I need to show those part-time and 2nd employer too to file H1B? Or I can skip them?

  3. Hello!

    I’m on opt and it expires on 2/14. I have found a company who’s willing to help me out with H1 process. If I submit my h1 application while I’m on grace period, would I be okay to work and get paid until 9/30? Thank you!

    • Jiwon,
      No, you will not be eligible to work as you will NOT get cap gap extension like others…I would suggest you discuss with attorney on this to be sure.

    • My actual wage is lower than the H1B requirements. However my employers claim that they will bump it up to the prevailing wage during the time of the application. Is this possible? Or should my wage satisfy the requirements prior to filing my petition?

  4. 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

    • 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.


      • 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

          • 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.

  5. Hey!

    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?

    • 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.

  6. 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.


    • 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. Hi,

    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.


  11. 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??

    • 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 USCIS.gov rules for H1B

  12. 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

  13. hello i have C1D visa which is valid till 2020.is there . is there any procedure where i can get H1 D for work in u.s.a on land based job….

  14. 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

    • Ethan,

      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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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?

  17. 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…


  18. 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?

  19. 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?

    • 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.

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

    • 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)

  21. 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.

    • 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?

    • Maggy/Shreya,

      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.

      • 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?

        • Maggy,

          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.

  22. 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.

    • Abhishek,

      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.

  23. 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.


    • Raj,

      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?

      • 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.


  24. 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,

    • 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?

  25. 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)

    • Kush,

      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.

        • 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?

          • Kush,

            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

  26. 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?


    • Babu,
      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.

      • Thanks Saurabh, One more thing plz – –How we will know, whether my employer submitted my application / file to US consulate???

        • Babu,
          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.

          • 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??

          • Babu,

            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.

        • 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.


          • babu,

            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.

          • 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!!

          • 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??

  27. 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,

    • Reddy,
      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.


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