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Postby San Diego Info » Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:05 am



The H1B Visa Program is the official and primary USA work visa / work permit.

The US Government introduced the H1B visa to offer and enable highly skilled International Professionals and/or International Students, from all over the World, the opportunity to live and work in the USA.

The H1B is the most sought after US work visa and US Immigration requires 'every' foreign national to obtain a visa in order to legally work in America.

To Obtain an H1B Visa :

Step 1 - you must 'first' find an H1B Job with a US Employer (known as your "sponsor")

Step 2 - your Employer files your H1B Visa Application with the US Immigration Bureau

Note: Individuals can NOT sponsor or apply for their own H1B visa. Only Your Employer can.

To Qualify for the H1B Visa Program, you must work in a 'specialty occupation':

Computing & IT, Telecoms, HealthCare, Finance & Accounting, Teaching, Legal, PR, Marketing & Advertising, Sales, Management and Engineering.

>>> an H1B visa is typically valid for up to six (6) years and entitles your spouse (husband/wife) and children to accompany you and live in America.

The initial H1B visa can then be extended one time for up to a combined total of six years.

Other regulatory provisions permit;
(1) the employer to request a period of less than three years,
(2) the employee to be employed on a part-time basis
(3) the employee to work for more than one US Employer simultaneously.

>>> one of the main advantages of the H1B visa is that it is a 'dual intent' visa which means that you can apply for a Green Card (Legal Permanent Residency).

Required Documentation for H1B visa holder

1. High School Diploma (only required if no college level of education has been attained.)

2. College diplomas (Associate, Bachelor, Master, Ph.D)

3. College transcripts/academic records

4. Certificate/diploma of training courses in IT

5. Evidence of license or professional membership in IT

6. Employment verification in the form of retrospective references (these must correlate with information in CV/Resume)

7. Current CV/Resume describing in detail employment history including: name & address of employer, job title, month/year commenced employment & month/year concluded employment, type of business, duties performed, full/part time.

8. Identity page in passport plus any pages evidencing current or expired US Visas

I-94 card

As an immigrant, when you arrive in the U.S., an arrival/departure record card is issued and placed in your passport next to your visa. This is called an I-94 card that permits a foreigner to be in the U.S. (as opposed to visa that provides the right to travel in and out of the U.S. in a certain status, eg. H1B visa status). The U.S. immigration official at the U.S. port of entry will review the foreigner’s immigration documents (eg. H1B visa) and stamp the I-94 card with an expiry date consistent with the visa expiry. It should be noted that the immigration official has the power to limit a foreigner’s stay irrespective of the visa expiration. The I-94 card is removed when a foreigner departs the U.S.


There are 3 main requirements to determine if you qualify for an H1B Visa (specialty occupation):

1) theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialised knowledge;

2) a bachelor's or higher degree (or its foreign equivalent) in the specific specialty; and,

3) one or more of the following:
- A bachelor's degree (or its foreign equivalent) is typically the minimum entry requirement for the position;
- The degree requirement should be in line with the industry or, the position is so specialized that the work can only be performed by someone with a degree.
- The employer company typically requires a degree (or its foreign equivalent) to perform the job function or,
- The nature of the job duties are so specialized that the knowledge and skills required are normally associated with the attainment of a bachelor or higher degree.

With regards to the required work experience, it must be clearly shown that it:
~ was in the specific occupational field or a very closely related occupation
~ was progressive (i.e. moved from junior to senior responsibilities)
~ required theoretical and practical application of specialised knowledge required by the occupation
~ was gained while working with colleagues who also attained a degree or its equivalence in the specialty occupation.

The Application Process

1. Offer & Acceptance of Employment - Employer files a petition on your behalf.
An employer can be an individual, partnership or corporation. Applications are "job specific." If your situation changes (for example, you lose your job or change locations), your new employer must file a new H1B visa petition. The visa is only valid for work with the employer that filed the original petition.

The BCIS require employment letters which provide:
*Specific information addressing the positions held
*The exact duties of the position
*The exact dates of employment
*Information regarding the supervisors and co-workers of the beneficiary.

2. The 'Prevailing Wage' and actual wage must be determined and compared. The employer is required to pay the higher of the two.

The prevailing wage is determined by the State Employment Security Agency by completing a special form, which asks the employer for the responsibilities, skills and experience needed for the job. The actual wage is determined by comparing other workers in the same positions with the same level of experience.

3. File the Labor Certification Application (LCA).
This is a two-page form that contains information about the employer. By completing and signing the form, the employer is agreeing to pay the higher of the two wages, that the employment of this individual will not adversely affect the conditions of other workers and that there is no strike for their occupation at the workplace. Recently, Congress determined that employers must attest that they will offer H1B visa holders the same benefits as their other workers. This includes health, life, medical, retirement, stock options and bonuses.

4. When the LCA is approved, the Department of Labor (DOL) will return a certified copy to the employer.

5. The employer must post notices at two conspicuous places at their business of the H1B visa filing for 10 days or provide notice of the filing to the collective bargaining representative for their employees.
The LCA form can be used for the actual posting as well. After the Department of Labor accepts the LCA, then your employer can file your H1B visa petition.

6. H1B Petition assembled & filed with appropriate BCIS Service office.
The filing must include the required forms, fees, documents and information; form I-129, education & experience evaluation & documents, training certificates, professional memberships, resume, employment agreement and letter of support.

7. Wait for the petition to be processed.
Processing times vary depending upon service center and the visa. It could be up to a three- to four-month wait. If the employer can show a substantial need for the employee, BCIS might approve the petition sooner. Employment cannot begin, however, until INS has issued the appropriate visa.

8. Receipt issued by BCIS
The petitioner (prospective employer) is sent a receipt by the BCIS Service Centre which bears a 9 digit reference number pertaining only to that particular case, H-1B processing times and general information about the petitioner and foreign worker. This is the petitioner’s first confirmation that the petition is in the adjudicating queue.

9. A notice is generated by the prospective employer and mailed to the consultant notifying him/her of this receipt and outlining information on processing times etc. The notice should warn the consultant not to resign from current employment, sell accommodation or make any major life changes until it is communicated that the H1B visa petition has been approved.

10. Petition Approval
Generally a case will be approved within or on the designated time frame outlined in the BCIS receipt.

An approval notice (Form I-797) is issued to the petitioner. The Form I-797 shows dates of validity for the foreign worker to work in H1B status for the petitioner .

~ The H1B visa beneficiary then applies for personal and family visas at the Consulate.
~ Normally, people apply to the Consulate that is closest to where they live.
~ Visa processing normally takes 2-3 days, depending on the Consulate.

Once the passports are returned with valid H1B visa stamp, the Consultant and his/her family may enter the U.S. in ‘H’ status.


The process to obtain a TN1 work visa is the same as to obtain an H1B visa (you must first find a job with a sponsor company). This means that H1B employers and sponsors also recruit and hire people on TN1 visas.

Canadians & Mexicans looking for short term work permits should consider the NAFTA "TN" (treaty national) visa. The visa includes most professional designations. The TN visa is not designed for self employment. The visa is designed to accommodate short term employment in a professional capacity. Consultants must demonstrate that they are coming to the US to service a client, not to set up their own US business.

Applicants may apply at border posts. Show your professional credentials, proof of university education and a cover letter from the employer describing your job duties. The INS border inspector should process your application within a few hours.

If you are already in the US you can apply for TN status by mail through an INS regional processing centre.

The Visa lasts one year but is renewable indefinitely. Common sense dictates that the longer you have the TN visa the more scrutiny you face at the border.

The TN visa automatically expires upon application for permanent residence. If you have a TN and want a green card, change status to H1B or E treaty status before applying for the green card. The H1B lasts for up to six years, which is generally more than enough time to process the green card.

The TN visa is only available to Canadian citizens, not landed immigrants.

The TN category offers Canadian professionals a fast track into the US. Once in the US one may consider other options for a longer term stay.

Note: Mexican Citizens must apply through the INS Service Centers inside the United States, and are subject to longer processing times.


The process to obtain an E3 work visa is the same as to obtain an H1B visa (you must first find a job with a sponsor company). This means that H1B employers and sponsors also recruit and hire people on E3 visas.

he regulations implementing the new E3 visa were published in the US Federal Register on 2 September 2005. With the publication of the regulations, Australians are now able to apply for E3 visas in order to live and work in the USA. The E3 visa will help Australian business people and professionals capitalise on the opportunities offered under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA).

Qualified Australians wishing to live and work in the USA now find themselves in a privileged position. They have access to a dedicated visa that is easier and less costly to obtain than the traditional H1B work visa. 10,500 E3 visas per annum have been reserved exclusively for Australian nationals. Unlike the H1B visa, spouses of E3 visa holders are now able to work in the United States - eliminating a barrier that in practice has stopped many Australians from applying for temporary residence in the US. E-3 visa holders will be able to apply for extensions. The application fee for an E3 visa is significantly lower than for the H1B visa.

Requirements to Qualify

To qualify for an E3 visa, an applicant must demonstrate:

• that he or she must have a legitimate offer of employment in the US

• that the position he or she is coming to fill qualifies as specialty occupation employment

• that he or she is an Australian citizen

• that he or she has the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials

• that his or her stay will be temporary, and

• if required before the alien may commence employment in the specialty occupation, that he or she has the necessary license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation.

An approved Labor Condition Application is required and no more than 10,500 E3 visas can be issued per year.

Other Requirements to Qualify

Submit a job offer letter from the prospective United States-based employer. A treaty alien in a specialty occupation must meet the general academic and occupational requirements for the position pursuant to INA 214(i)(1). In addition to the nonimmigrant visa application, the following documentary evidence must be submitted in connection with an application for an E3 visa:

• A certified Form ETA 9035, clearly annotated as "E3 - Australia - to be processed." (Note: DOL is currently updating the Form ETA 9035 to include an option check box for E3 classification, which will eliminate the need for the interim handwritten annotation).

• Evidence of academic or other qualifying credentials as required under INA 214(i)(1), and a job offer letter or other documentation from the employer establishing that upon entry into the United States the applicant will be engaged in qualifying work in a specialty occupation and that the alien will be paid the actual or prevailing wage referred to in INA 212(t)(1). A certified copy of the foreign degree and evidence that it is equivalent to the required U.S. degree could be used to satisfy the "qualifying credentials" requirement. Likewise, a certified copy of a U.S. baccalaureate or higher degree, as required by the specialty occupation, would meet the minimum evidentiary standard.

• In the absence of an academic or other qualifying credential(s), evidence of education and experience that is equivalent to the required US degree.

• Evidence establishing that the applicant's stay in the United States will be temporary.

• A certified copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment if so required or, where licensure is not necessary to commence immediately the intended specialty occupation employment upon admission, evidence that the alien will be obtaining the required license within a reasonable time after admission.

• Evidence of payment of the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Fee, also known as the application fee.


The validity of the visa should not exceed the validity period of the LCA. The Department of State and DHS have agreed to a 24-month maximum validity period for E-3 visas. This validity may be renewed.

Family & Dependents

E-3 spouses are entitled to work in the United States and may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765) through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (U.S.CIS). The spouse of a qualified E nonimmigrant may, upon admission to the United States, apply with the Department of Homeland Security for an employment authorization document, which an employer could use to verify the spouse's employment eligibility. Such spousal employment may be in a position other than a specialty occupation.

Note: An alien seeking to be admitted in E3 nonimmigrant classification at a U.S. Port-of-Entry must posses a valid E3 visa issued by the U.S. Department of State. Aliens already in the United States may request a change of status to E3 or extend their E3 status by filing a Form 1- 129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) directly with the Vermont Service Center. The cost for filing the request for change of status or extension of stay is $190.

In addition to the Form 1-129, applicants must include the following documentation:

• Proof of Australian nationality,

• A letter from the prospective U.S. employer describing the alien's occupation, the alien's anticipated length of stay, and salary/remuneration arrangements,

• Evidence that the alien meets the educational requirements for the position to be filled (a bachelor's degree or higher or its equivalent in the specific specialty occupation),

• Evidence that the alien meets any licensing or other occupational requirements, and

• Evidence that the prospective U.S. employer has filed with the Department of Labor a Labor Condition Application (LCA) specifically designated for E3 Specialty Occupations.

More information about the E3 temporary work visa and temporary worker programs in general is available on the USCIS website at and on the Department of State website at
San Diego Info
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