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As we approach the filing season for H-1B visas, many recently graduated or soon to graduate students have received Optional Practical Training (OPT). You may be either searching for employment or you already have a job offer. Since OPT only lasts 1-2.5 years, you will need to do to get a visa to work after your OPT expires. This post will provide a brief overview of the H-1B process.

During my job interview, should I tell the company I need a visa to work?

If you already have a job working on your OPT, approach your employer about your interest in remaining with the company and your need for a visa. Approaching your employer does not have to be stressful or complicated. Explain in simple terms that your attorney will walk them through the process and work on their part will be minimal.
Will I need a Visa to work after my OPT expires?
Yes, before your OPT expires, you must apply for a visa to continue working. The H-1B visa is the most direct and simple visa for an employer to use to employ foreign nationals. The H-1B visa is an employment-based visa which allows a foreign national to come to the United States and temporarily perform services in a specialty occupation.
The H-1B visa is very versatile and can be used to employ foreign nationals in a wide range of positions.
Who qualifies for an H-1B Visa?
You must have a bachelor’s degree or higher from a U.S. College or University or the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree. The degree must directly relate to the position you will fill with the employer.
The position must require a bachelor’s degree or higher and must be a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one which requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to perform the occupation.
Who files for the H-1B visa?
The employer files the H-1B petition and must obtain approval from the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) for an H-1B visa for a specific worker in a specific position. The H-1B petition must be approved by the USCIS before the H-1B employee begins work.
How many H-1B visas are there?
H-1B’s are limited to 65,000 per year with an additional 20,000 visas for individuals with master’s degrees from a U.S. college or university. The first day to apply for an H-1B visa is typically April 1st. Once these visas are used up, there are no more available.
What happens if more than 65,000 people apply?
Petitioners seeking to submit H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay an associated $10 fee for each electronic registration they submit to USCIS.
Employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration process that will require only basic information about their company and each requested worker. The initial registration period will start the beginning of March, 2022. Employers and their representatives will be able to set up required registration accounts prior to March. USCIS intends to close the initial registration period towards the middle/end of March, 2022 and will announce the actual end date of the initial registration period on its website. USCIS will then run a random selection process on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Are any H-1B visas “exempt” from the 65,000 limit?
Certain employers are exempt from the quota. Colleges, universities, non-profit government research organizations, and non-profit organizations affiliated with a college or university can apply for an unlimited number of H-1B visas.
Does an “exempt” H-1B visa have to be filed on April 1, 2022?
No, an “exempt” H-1B petition can be filed at any time.
Once the H-1B visa is approved, where can I work?
H-1B employment is site specific, meaning H-1B professionals may only be employed by the U.S. employer that submitted the H-1B petition. No other employment is permitted without separate approval by USCIS.
Can I change employers?
Yes, you can change employers, but your employer will have to file a new H-1B petition. Once the petition is filed, you can begin work for your new employer. H-1B visa petitions that are filed for changes in employment are usually exempt from the quota and can be filed at any time.
How long can I work in the U.S. on my H-1B visa?
You can work on an H-1B visa for a maximum period of six years. But there are exceptions to the six-year limit. The most common exception is for those persons that have begun the process of obtaining permanent residence.

Can I bring my family with me to the U.S.?

Only spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old may accompany the H-1B employee. Family members can stay in the U.S. for the same period of time as the H-1B employee. Family members may go to school but are not allowed to work unless they obtain their own work authorization.
How long does it take to get an H-1B visa?
Estimated time to complete the H-1B visa process is approximately 4-6 weeks for expedited cases and 4-6 months for an H-1B petition via regular processing.

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