How to Apply for a H1B Visa

By Eric Som

The H1B visa provides a way for United States employers to hire foreign nationals to work temporarily in the country in a "specialty occupation." These occupations include jobs in the social sciences, biotechnology, medicine, law and engineering. The H1B visa may be appropriate for you if you are interested in working temporarily in the United States and you possess highly-specialized knowledge in one of these areas.

Earn an accredited bachelor's degree (or a higher degree). The minimum requirement for an H1B visa is a post-secondary educational credential.

Seek and obtain employment at a qualifying position with a United States employer. A position qualifies for an H1B visa if it requires you to have at a minimum a bachelor's degree or higher, or the duties of the position are such that only someone with a bachelor's degree or higher can perform the duties satisfactorily.

Have the employer contact the U.S. Department of Labor and file a Labor Condition Application (LCA).

Have the employer contact United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and file a Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (see Resources) on your behalf.

Contact the employer and have them send you a notarized copy of Form I-129; USCIS issues this document to employers upon approving their petition for a foreign worker.

Find your local U.S. consulate on the "Websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions Worldwide" page on the U.S. Department of State homepage (see Resources).

Get a two-inch-by-two-inch photo taken. The photo must be less than six months old at the time of application.

Pay your machine-readable visa (MRV) fee at an embassy-approved local financial institution. You can find this information on the consulate's website. The fee for an H-1B visa, as of June 2010, was $150 (USD).

Complete and print forms DS-156, Application for Nonimmigrant Visa and DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application.

Establish proof of your strong ties to your home country by gathering documents such as land titles, vehicle registrations, credit card statements and proof of real estate ownership.

Visit the homepage of your local U.S. consulate and schedule your visa appointment according to the instructions on the website.

Attend your visa interview on your appointment date. In order to pass the interview, you must convince the immigration officer that you do not plan to remain in the United States illegally after your visa expires. If you pass the interview, the consulate will process your visa in about five business days.

About the Author

Eric Som has been writing professionally since 2002, contributing to various websites. He is certified through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Som holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Laws from Handong Global University. He also has a Juris Doctor degree from an Ohio law school.