Home » Visas » USA » H1B Visa » H1B Visa Basics – Requirements, Filing Dates, Cap, Fee – FAQs

H1B Visa Basics – Requirements, Filing Dates, Cap, Fee – FAQs

If you are new to the H1B Visa work visa process, you may have many questions about the basics of H1B Visa like what is the visa, its requirements, fees, cap, etc. It can be overwhelming for someone new to the process. To help everyone, we have collected all the basic questions related to H1B Visa and published this article.

What is H1B Visa? 

H1B Visa is a temporary work visa that allows internationals with specialized skills to work and live in America. There are many other non-immigrant work visa types, but this is one of the most popular ones used by international companies, students studying in the US, and international professionals outside the US. 

What are the Requirements for an H1B Visa?

As H1B Visa caters to the specialized skills category, you need to have a minimum bachelor’s degree and the job that is offered to you falls under a specialized skills category. Your degree has to be from an accredited school. If your bachelor’s degree is awarded from a non-US university, it has to be on par or equivalent to US Bachelor’s degree.

Also, if the job requires a license to practice something in certain medical fields or legal areas, then you need to have that too. If the applicant has no bachelor’s degree, then a candidate has a lot of experience can be eligible for H1B Visa as well. In such cases,  each year of education can be equated with three years of relevant work experience. You can read all the Official H1B Requirements at the USCIS website 

Who can sponsor an H1B Visa? Company or Self?

H1B can be sponsored by a company in the US or a multinational company that has operations and offices in the US. You cannot sponsor an H1B visa by yourself. Also, your family living in the US or outside of the US cannot sponsor your H1B visa. It has to be a company that is doing business in the US.

Who is an Employer or H1B Sponsor? 

An employer or H1B Sponsor is the company that is sponsoring your H1B visa. The terms ‘Employer’ and ‘H1B Sponsor’ maybe used interchangeably in the context of an H1B Visa.

Both of these indicate the company that gave you the H1B visa-related job offer, and the same company that is filing an H1B visa on your behalf with USCIS to get authorization for you to work for them in the US.

What kind of Company in the US can sponsor H1B visa?

Technically, any company with an office in America can sponsor an H1B visa. It can be a company with few people to hundreds of thousands of people. 

There are some requirements by the USCIS laid out so that the company filing your visa has the ability to pay you and afford you as it is their responsibility to make sure you are paid in the US as per the US Department of Labor, which is governed by something called LCA, more details below.

What is an H1B LCA? Why is it required?

In the context of an H1B visa, an LCA stands for ‘Labor Condition Application.’ It is a mandatory document that the H1B Sponsor or employer must file with the US Department of Labor before they can file the H1B petition with USCIS for any non-immigrant worker. Employers file the H1B LCA in the US Department of Labor FLAG System. It takes about seven days to process the same.

An H1B LCA is required to ensure that foreign workers are given similar wages and provided similar conditions as that of US Workers. It has the details of the job position such as wage, location, SOC Code, etc. For full details, you can read the article  What is H1B LCA, Why required? Salaries, Forms filed, Processing time. 

What is H1B Visa Cap? Regular vs Master’s quota?

“H1B Visa Cap” is nothing but the term used to indicate the total limit of H1B visas set by the US Congress for this visa category per year. It has two main categories called a regular quota and the master’s quota. Also, there is a special reserved quota for Singapore-Chile that is under Regular quota. H1B caps are listed as below.

  • Regular Cap: This is loosely referred as general quota/cap or regular quota or non-advanced degree quota/cap. The annual cap is set as 65,000.
  • Advanced Degree Cap: This is loosely referred as Masters’ quota/cap, US Masters degree cap, etc.  The annual cap is set as 20,000.
  • Chile-Singapore Cap: This is the number set aside for applicants from Singapore and Chile. Annual cap is 6,800 and the number is taken out from Regular Cap.

You can read complete details at What is H1B Cap – How is it calculated? Regulations?

What is the H1B Visa filing fee? Who Pays for What?

To file an H1B visa petition for an employee, the sponsor/company incurs various kinds of costs, ranging from application filing fee with USCIS for the H1B petition to fee for the attorney for filing the same. Depending on the size of the company, the H1B filing fee can vary anywhere from $1,720 USD to $6,470 USD + the Attorney fee( if any). You can read full details at H1B Filing Fee Details – Who pays for What?

Who pays for the H1B Visa filing? 

It is the employer or sponsoring company’s responsibility to pay for all the expenses to file H1B visa petition with USCIS. It is illegal to pay money to the H1B sponsoring company to file an H1B for you. Check H1B Online Advisor tool by the US Dept of Labor that tells what you can pay and what you cannot.

When can you file H1B visa? Anytime During Year?

H1B Visa application for someone applying for the first time can only be done once a year during a defined time window. The first step to apply for an H1B visa is to submit an H1B Registration with USCIS. Usually, the submission window for the same is in March of a year. USCIS announces the exact dates for the same earlier in the year.

After the H1B Registration Process, a lottery is conducted by USCIS, if there is more demand, to select applicants. The selected applicants in the H1B Registration Lottery are informed by end of March and they can file the H1B petition between April 1st, and June 30th. If you are not picked in H1B lottery, you cannot file an H1B visa petition.

How long does USCIS Accept H1B Visa Applications?

In the past, USCIS used to accept applications for a minimum of 5 days and for up to a few months until they meet the H1B quota cap of 85,000. But, this changed with the introduction H1B Visa Registration Process.

As per the H1B registration process, USCIS usually accepts H1B registrations for 2 to 3 weeks. As per regulation, they must keep the registration period open for at least two weeks.

What is H1B Visa lottery?

If there are more H1B applications or registrations received by USCIS than the total quota cap of 85,000, they use a process of random selection to select the registrations or applications to meet the numerical cap of 85K quota. This random selection process is popularly called the H1B Lottery.

You can read complete details at H1B Visa Lottery Process, How does it work? Also, to understand more on the history and trend of the cap reach dates, including lottery, read H1B Cap Reach Dates from FY 2000 to 2024.

When to plan for filing an H1B Visa?

Planning early is always better when you are thinking of getting an H1B visa, as there is always a very high demand. You can start planning in early December or the first week of January to avoid last-minute issues.

You should do your job search during this time and find a job at an H1B Sponsoring company. As part of the job search process, you should speak to the company that is offering you job and ask them if they can sponsor H1B visa for you.

How to find H1B Sponsors?

There are many ways to find an H1B Sponsor. One of the simplest way is to find a job at a company that has done H1B sponsorship in the past and ask them to file an H1B application for you. You can use a website like H1BGrader, which is H1B Sponsors Database.

There are a few other options, like doing an internship in a company and then asking them to sponsor, or you can work at a multinational company in your home country and ask them to sponsor an H1B visa. For more details, you can read the article How to find H1B Sponsors – Options, H1B Database

What are the Steps after filing an H1B Visa Petition? Check Status?

Once an employer or H1B sponsor submits an H1B visa petition with USCIS, they will get a H1B Case receipt notice that has a Receipt Number. The USCIS H1B Case Receipt number is 13 digits and the letters can indicate, where the H1B petition is processed. You can check the status of the H1B Visa Case online using that case receipt number.

USCIS reviews the submitted H1B visa petition and approves the same, if the petition meets all the requirements. If they need more info, they may issue a request for evidence(RFE) asking to submit more info. If the petition does not meet the requirements, then they will deny the petition. You can read more at Steps after the H1B Visa Lottery.

What are various H1B Statuses – What do they mean ?

After an H1B petition is filed with USCIS, they send a receipt notice to track the status of the case online. When the USCIS is processing the case, they assign a status to each of the processing steps they are going through.

There are various case statuses like “Case Was Received”, “Case Was Approved”, etc. that USCIS gives for each of the H1B petitions that they are processing. To know full details of each of the case statuses read H1B Visa Case Statuses Meaning – Flow 

Processing time for H1B Visa ? Regular vs Premium Process ?

H1B Visa application with USCIS can be filed under two categories either regular or premium processing. If you file in regular processing, there is no SLA from USCIS. They can process it anywhere from few weeks to 6 months or more. But, if you file your petition under premium processing, USCIS is mandated to give a response within 15 calendar days. Of course, you have file extra fee for the same. You can read complete details at H1B Processing Times – Regular vs Premium- What to do ?  

What is an H1B RFE ? Is it Common ?

While your H1B petition is being adjudicated / processed by USCIS, the officer who is handling your case, may not have all the details to make a decision on your petition. In such cases, they can issue something called “Request for Evidence” (short form – RFE) and your employer has to submit details. It can be anything from documents of your education, client letters, etc. For more details, you can read article H1B RFE Common Reasons

How to expedite H1B processing ? Long wait ? 

If you have filed your petition under regular processing and you are not getting any response from USCIS due to their workload, you can always upgrade your petition to premium processing by paying the respective fee. Once you upgrade your petition, you will get a response / decision from USCIS within 15 calendar days.

When can you go for H1B stamping after Approval ?

If your H1B petition is approved, you will need H1B Visa stamp on your passport to enter USA. You need to apply at local US embassy/ Consulate in your  country of residence for H1B visa stamping. You can apply for H1B visa stamping at embassy within 90 days before the start date on your H1B approval notice. More details When to apply for H1B Stamping after approval ?

When to enter US after H1B stamping ?

Once you have your H1B stamping done, you can only enter US within 10 days from the start date listed on your approval notice. You will not be allowed to enter, if you try to enter earlier than that on H1B visa.

When can you start to work on H1B ? Delayed entry to US ?

Technically, you can start work on H1B visa after you enter US on H1B visa. It is usually the start date listed on your H1B approval notice. Some times, you may delay your entry to US due to various reasons from you or employer. You can start to work in US anytime that is on or after the start date on your approval notice.

What is Port of Entry?  Process for H1B Visa Holders ?

Port of entry is the first place either airport / border checkpoint or sea port, where you would enter US on visa. You will be interviewed by CBP officer at this place and they may ask you questions and let you inside. If all is good, they will scan your passport and will stamp on your passport with with the entry date.  They have right to reject and send you back to your home country, if they sense something is wrong or fraudulent. You need to be prepared and carry all documents and info. Read Port of Entry Documents Checklist for H1B Holders.

What is H1B Visa Transfer ? Change Employers ?

H1B Visa Transfer is a process where you use your existing H1B petition details to transfer your work visa to a new employer. Technically, there is no transferring, it is common term used…your new employer will file a fresh / New H1B petition, but the trick is that, you will not have to go through lottery again and they will use the old H1B petition number to consider that you have been counted towards H1B cap.  Read more at H1B Transfer Options to change employers- in US, from Outside US

What is the maximum time limit to work on H1B visa in US ? 

As per regulation, you can work for up to 6 years on H1B visa and stay in US. USCIS usually grants 3 years for first petition and then grants another 3 years when you file extension of H1B status. Usually, most of the H1B holders work with employers and do green card processing to continue working on H1B visa beyond 6 years and stay in US. If no green card processing happens within this 6 years, you will have to depart after 6 years and stay outside of USA for one year to be eligible to apply for H1B visa again.


Other Articles


  1. Hi, I worked in USA from Jan-2017 to February-2020 on H1b and returned back to India on March 2020. Now I’m thinking to come back to USA. Can I go for H1B cap exempt process, since I didn’t utilized my full 6yrs of H1B? If yes, I’m not able to find any companies with cap exemption process. Do company offers cap exempt h1b applications from India ?

  2. HI, I have just completed 6 years on an H1B and left the USA on July 30th 2022. I understand I need to be outside the USA one year before applying for another H1B, but is it one year before the April 1st application or before the start of a new H1B on October 1st? ie can I apply in April2023 or do I have to wait 20 months until April 2024?

    Thank you

  3. Hi Kumar

    Currently my h1b Petition approved , on approval notice start date is 1st Oct 2021 to 30th Sep 2024 , since the project in USA for me is going to start in June 2022 my employer asked me to wait for stamping ……so my question is mostly i am going to travel in JUNE 2022 so will the time from 1st oct 2021 to june 2022 will be deducted from 3 years of initial stay ?? This is the case that i am outside of US and have not traveled to US till now on h1b.

  4. FirstTime H1,

    Hi Kumar,

    When we have Two Master degrees and go for H1 stamping for the first time, what all possible questions we can get?? When I get a questions related to my graduation year, University etc.. , which degree details I have to provide to VO?

  5. Hi Ram/Kumar/Admin,
    I had my EAD when my husband was with L1B VISA and that got expired 5 years back. I travelled back to India and again back to USA and my spouse is on H1B VISA.
    Now I am applying H4-EAD,
    1) Is my category a fresh EAD or renewal of EAD?
    2) Am I qualify for EAD renewal fees waiver?
    Thanks in advance

  6. Guys, need ur expert advise on my case as it still shows “March 26, 2019 Response To USCIS’ Request For Evidence Was Received”, Is there any chance for approval?
    March 26, 2019 Response To USCIS’ Request For Evidence Was Received
    January 28, 2019 We mailed a request for additional evidence for your Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
    April 12, 2018 We received your Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

  7. Hi, I live in US and currently working on H4 EAD. In 2019 Aug, my H4 visa along with EAD went for extension. As it took long time for USCIS processing, my employer filed H1B petition(I had worked on H1B earlier. So it is cap exempt) at the same time with NO change-of-status. Since H4 was already under process with USCIS, my attorney said it is better to file H1B without COS. Then in Nov 2019 I got my H4 and EAD approved and I continued working on that H4 EAD till now. In 2019 Dec, my H1B petition is also got approved but without COS and it is valid till Sept 2022. Now I need to change my status from H4 to H1B. My question is can my employer file a fresh H1B instead of the existing approved H1B(which is without COS) ? Because if I change the status with existing approved H1B petition, I will get only 1 and a half year incase it gets approved. But if it is fresh H1B petition, I might get 3 years. I believe the fee is same for both processes. Is there any other complication to file a fresh cap exempt H1B when an approved H1B (without COS) already existing?

    • Nithya,
      Yes, they can file a file cap exempt H1B again with COS. Yes, same process, same fee. If you have not used any H1B time, you will get full H1B term of 3 years.

  8. Hi Kumar,
    I have question regarding CAP-exempt H1B. My current employer (not for profit) has applied for the PERM process and they will file my I-140 under premium processing. My question is after the I-140 is approved (and after revoking time, after 6 months) would it be possible for me to apply for H1B transfer with another employer (for profit employer)? Please clarify. Thanks in advance.

  9. Hi Kummar. Thanks for all the information that you provide here, really helpful. I have been reading through and I still have a question. I am already working for a US company under an OPT that will expire in September of this year. My question refers to timing, lets say my company decides to apply using a premium process for 2021 lottery, when could I start working under the H1-B visa in case I would be awarded with one of them? Thanks in advance

    • David,
      Your status will change on October 1st, if everything goes well and you get approval. The good part is you can use Cap Gap from September until start date of H1B to continue working…

      • Thanks for the answers Kumar! So if my company would apply for this April 2020, I get a spot and the application is approved, I could start using the H1B status from October 2020 or from 2021? Also, how long can it take approximately to apply for the visa? I don’t know if there is enough time until April 1. Lastly, could you let me know if I am right here regarding the sequence of the visa process: companies submit the application by April 1, the lottery gets done (when, is there a specific date?) and then if you happen to be one of the lucky ones, they review your application and finally approve it or not? Many thanks.

          • You are helping me a lot Kumar. The link with the H1B registration process info that you shared is super useful. Many thanks.

          • Hi Kummar,

            Quick question: what is the effect on my h1b application if my start date is pushed from October 2020 to January 2021? My employer is currently filing my h1b application (I got selected in the lottery) – not currently in the U.S.!

            Thanks in advance!


          • Martha,
            Not much. You just need to make sure that offer is still valid and that job exists for you when you go for visa stamping and when you enter US.

  10. Hi Admin,

    I am Ragul, India. I need suggestion regarding my situation, I am not sure whether this is right place to ask but I knew only this site for h1b.

    I stayed in US for 2 years(2017-18) and recently returned back from US due to personal reason and my visa got expired few months before.
    I have around 3 years 11months of remaining H1b. Infosys filled out of cap and my case was denied now.
    Now, my company offering me to go to Canada(Intra company transfer) and I am thinking now,

    Because of below options,
    1st thing, I would like to go to US.
    2nd If I go to Canada how I can utilize my remaining h1b period.
    3rd If I go to Canada, Will I be able to use this H1b with different employer once I got PR in Canada(after a year)?

    4th Final option is, I need to quit here and jump to different company here self who can process my remaining h1b, which needs to get approve(Minimum 2 years process)

    With family I am really confused which path to select as per current situation of h1b in US.

    Which would be the best option for going to US using my H1b.

    Admin and Friends. Please guide.

    Thanks a lot.

  11. Hi, I worked for an Indian MNC who filed my H1b in 2014 which got approved in lottery and visa for 1 year was granted. I travelled in feb 2015 for 6 months and then the project got over and I had to come back. Later I resigned and since then I am working in India. Its been 5 years since I got the aproval in nov 2014. I knew once the H1b visa is selected in Lottery its valid for 6 years ( 6years from which date ? date of application or date of approval ? )
    Also do I come under H1b Cap exception.
    Please correct me if I am wrong – My assumption is –
    Since I got approval on nov 2014 – if I get a sponcer who re-apply H1b visa for me before oct 2020 – I dont have to go for lottery ( cap excempted ) .

  12. Hi Kumar, Friends,
    I am planning to get my dependents (Spouse and kids) VISA and planning to get my In-Laws VISA as well. I am thinking to get their Interview on same day/time as all are travel mysore to Hyderabad , stay in Hyderabad 3 days (OFC, Interview), helps taking care of kids.
    1) Is it OK clubbing all on same slot of interview (adding all in same profile for interview slot)
    2) Or can I keep same day but timeslot different(spouse and kinds one slot and In-laws in other slots), or one day difference.

    Anyone has same situation, PLease share your opinion.
    Thannks in advance

  13. Hi Kumar,

    I received RFE for my petition I need to submit MSA& SOW but it’s valid only till Jan 2020. Is that sufficient to response RFE..??

    Do we need minimum 6 months valid of MSA & Sow is required to response RFE..??

  14. Hi Kumar,

    My h1b petition is filed when I was working for client A, Now I am working for client B but same employer/company but different location(LCA is different). Both client A and client B are still clients for my employer. Only thing is I am working for client B.

    Now i received RFE for EE & SO. How to handle this scenario? Do i need to submit EE & SO details of client A or Client B.

    Please help me on this.

  15. Hi,

    I got my application Approved, I have a query. I am shifting to a new house next month permanently. Will there be any issue as the address in my passport and H1B application will be different.

  16. Hi,

    This forum is amazing. I have some H1B and OPT related queries, kindly help me with it-
    My h1B has been filed by Company A with a client letter from Company B. H1-B was filed under premium processing.H1-B has been picked up in the lottery and got an RFE with the due date to respond by 2nd sept. My project with Comp. B is getting over by 30th Sept, (I am trying to get an extension for 1 more month – October), since H1B is going to get effective from 1st October if it gets approved. Now my Comp. A is saying, it will let me go off their payroll from 14th October as they do not foresee any projects for me. They will give me 2 paystubs for October month. Comp. A is planning to respond to my RFE by last week of Aug (may be by 28th Aug).
    Additionally, on the other hand, I was on initial OPT which got expired on 14th August and I applied for OPT Stem extension in May,2019 and still waiting for it to receive. I just have the extension receipt.
    Because of the layoff in the future, I started looking out for a job and landed one with a Company C – (Client – Facebook). They are asking me to join them by 9th Sept.
    Note: I am hoping to receive my OPT Stem Extension EAD card or H1B result atleast by 2nd week of Sept.
    Queries: Which one would be the safest bet –
    1. Can I join Company C by Sept 9th , inform my school about this change while OPT stem extension is in progress. My school would in-turn inform USCIS and update the Sevis while the extension is in process. Any chances of getting denial?
    Post that, if I hear about my H1-B result by 2nd week and if it gets approved, then from 1st October, Can Company C start the H1-B transfer ?
    Or do I need to be with Comp. A payroll until 1st October in order to have paystub to receive for October period? I know paystub from the Comp A is important but not sure if it also has to be for the October period as well.
    2. Do not join Comp. C and let go this opportunity. Wait for H1-B result and if it is approved, be with Comp. A until 14th October, keep looking for a job and someone who can transfer my H1-B. This will be little risky as market will be down because of the Q4. Also , nothing guarantees that I will definitely have the job.
    Here I am unable to assess which one is riskier or safer. Kindly help me with best of the suggestions you have.
    Thank you so much in advance !

    • Yes, you are free to join C on STEM OPT and update the same by working with DSO. The thing is, you need to work for your H1B company from October 1st, if it gets approved. it is recommended to work for few days at least and get h1B status for transfer. So, you need to work with employer C and tell that you cannot work from October 1st until H1B approved. So, you can either convince C to wait until October or convince your current company to let you leave and join on October 1st…It is a tricky situation, you need to make some decisions and work with your employers. Discuss with an attorney as well and make an informed decision.

  17. Hy Kumar ,

    I got RFE for immigration status related question. I am in Temporary protective status (TPS) .I do have TPS EAD but Unfortunately I lost my current approval notice . I do have my old approval notice and the receipt number for current approved notice. So can I just submit my EAD, old approval notices, and the currently approved receipt number to prove my immigration status ?


  18. Hi

    My visa got expired and my Extension is inprogress.

    My parents are in India , can i initiate Visitor visa for my parents with Extension receipt notice

    • Yes, you can. Make sure you send all your status documents. If you are not in any rush, you may wait for approval and then apply…

  19. HI

    H1-B Extension Filed – 12-07-18 CSC center
    RFE Received – 02-01-19
    RFE Responded – 23-02-19
    Premium Upgraded – 06-03-19
    Uscis Returned the Premuim processing check Stating ” We have made the decision on your case and notice has been mailed”

    But Still we have not received the result on mail.
    Also there online the case is not updated, it says : We have received the RFE response”

    We have raised the SR with USCIS on 15th April 19.

    After raising SR the online account got update with below comments.

    “On April 15,2019 your inquiry about a denial notice that you did not receive, referral number SR****CSC, was assigned to an officer for response.”

    Question — Does this mean my H1-B extension has been denied?

    Thanks in advance for the help

    • Narendra, It may be…The real confirmation is when you see a physical copy of the denial notice. In general, if you check H1B Statuses and Their Meaning , you can see the typical text you see for approvals….based on what you say, it does not look the same. Check with USCIS and your attorney, if they mailed the decision notice.

  20. Hi,
    My company just filed h1b for me, and it’s their first time hiring a foreigner. I just realized that we accidentally included form G-1145(e-notification) in the h1b application packet because we didn’t know that this form is only used for forms filed to lockbox facilities. I’m wondering if that would negatively affect my h1b application. Will I get rejected right away because of that?
    Thank you.

  21. Hi Kumar,

    I was working as a full time employee at a reputed firm in USA on H1B . I quit my job at the firm due to family commitment & returned to India a couple of months back. I would like to return to USA for work, I still have 3.5 yrs left in my H1B .

    Could you please suggest if its good to try for employment via consulting companies in India or directly approach US based consulting firms.
    Also please suggest if any other alternate approach available.

    Thank you for your valuable time.

    • RB,
      I would go with US based firms, instead of the consulting companies. The rejection rates and RFE rates for Outsourcing companies and many bodyshops is pretty high.

  22. Hello Kumar. My current h1 is valid till June 2020. The current h1 is on the first extension, so still within 6 yrs. I have an approved i-140. When a new employer applies for transfer, will they apply for 3 yrs from now ( given I have approved i140) ?

  23. Is working remote allowed on H1b? I am currently working in city A. My employer is ok with me moving to a new city (in a different state) and work remotely. My company does have a policy like this but i am not sure if my visa status allows me to work remote.

  24. Urgent :
    I got my H1B VISA stamped from big Indian MNC 6 months back, but I had to resign (downsize the project) 3 months back. So I am in India itself still. Now
    1) Some USA consulting company is offering transfer once client interview is through conducted from India (but with USA number to receive call)
    2) Some consulting company says they provide in house projects hence transfer being in India also
    3) Someone suggesting to travel whatever document I have (without client letter taking risk), once reached he will do transfer.

    Could you share your opinion on this? Are there any cases people have dealt this above scenario?
    Thanks in advance

    • Many try this route, but the approval chances and all depend on the company that is offering you role, client letter. With the recent changes it can be risky, unless you have proper client letter and job. You may be questioned at Port of Entry and it is better you have all the documentation with you.


Leave a Comment