Do I Need A Lawyer for my H1B Visa Process?

I mentioned in an earlier post how cost is one of the first questions most people ask in relation to obtaining their US Visa. Well a close second, and usually a subsequent question to the cost one is whether you need a lawyer/attorney for the process.

This is a very interesting question that I have addressed in part in other posts dealing with costs and procedure but will talk about it specifically here.

The H1B Visa;

Ok the truth is I know of no person that did this successfully without the help of the lawyer. And I know a lot of people on H1B visas from all walks of life! I am not saying that it can’t be done but the odds as they stand are completely stacked against you and really completely in favor of the Immigration Attorneys. They more than likely have a powerful lobby in Washington that likes the process as it is as it means more money and billable hours for them!

The reason why the process is stacked against the foreign applicant is as follows;

– In about 2003, when Congress reduced the cap of H1B visas annually from abotu 190,000 to the current 65,000 (plus 20,000 for US Masters Degree holders), it has meant a major shortage of visas compare to applicants

– There are many large corporations particularly in recent years in the IT and Biomedical industries that desperately need foregin talent due to shortage here (people like Bill Gates have called for 500,000 H1B visas annually) and they because of their budgets, size and need will use lawyers to ensure their candidates have the best chance as well as paying the premium filing fee

– The premium filing fee itself is an optional fee of $1,000 which you can pay so your lawyer has phone contact access to your the case officer assessing your application. This a great expense to pay yourself as an optional fee and I have yet to hear (but I could be wrong) of the Immigration officers talking to anyone other than lawyers

– The H1B process itself is very annoyingly complex with its April 1 opening for annual applications, multi level fee system process, lottery system and other conditions imposed around the whole process making it great for lawyers to exploit. Thus meaning if you don’t have a lawyer you are at a severe disadvantage.

Look I would hope if you are in the H1B process, you have an awesome company whom is paying all the legal costs on your behalf as they really value your employment. However if it is you whom are going to have to foot the bill albeit initially or to pay your company back, then do your research and get recommendations and try and find a fixed retainer if you can.

I do have the names of one immigration law firmwho were fine, professional and friendly during my process but as was all paid for on my behalf by the company have no idea what their fee structure is like. If you want their names drop me a comment or note with your email and I can send their names along.

Other Visas

Each visa presents it own unique challenges but if you are applying for the J1, F1 or M1 visas, I would say you don’t need a lawyer. The H2B visa I would also try an avoid the need for legal representation given you can be sponsored by 3rd party organizations.

If you are applying for the K visas relating to fiancees or spouses, it may be a good idea to get one if you can see there may be complications with your case. I think it’s safe to say in most cases that you would be aware if that circumstance relates to you. This is probably a visa where you definitely want the correct outcome.

The L1 I would assume since your company is multi national and you are doing an intra-company transfer they would have lawyers for the process.

I hope this helps to answer tricky questions you may have….

CJ

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49 thoughts on “Do I Need A Lawyer for my H1B Visa Process?

  1. Can u please help me and give the name of the law firm name, as I came from U.A.E Dubai and want to start a new business with the help of an existing company in Dubai and like to sell there product here in USA and probably I need more staff to hire locally by myself an engineer and have 7 year sales and engineering experience from same company and that product (electronics) ….what is your Idea is my case strong enough to get H1 visa with the help of my friend of USA citizen

  2. Hi Zahid,
    We don’t refer any lawyers here so I would recommend asking others for their experiences before choosing one.
    Your situation is not really suited for H-1B as the H-1B is for employees not commencing businesses. So unless your friend was legitimately employing you to work for his company then you would not be eligible for H-1B. The visa you could consider is EB5 which is an investment visa and can be used for starting a business. However there is very strict criteria for this and lot of money that you have to commit (often upwards of $1M+).
    CJ

  3. hello is it really needed to hire a lawyer for process my visa to migrate in canada?tell me about more..thnx

  4. Hi Liezel,
    I don’t know the Canadian Immigration system at all but I hope for your sake it is a lot easier, simpler and cheaper than the US Immigration system and you don’t need a lawyer at all.
    CJ

  5. Hello,

    I want to file my H1-B as my employer is ready to sponsor me while there is quota left to be filled this year. But I am not sure if he really can sponsor me because we will be the only two persons under his company. He is the president and willing to sponsor me as a Financial Analyst for his compay which has been around only for 3-4 years.

    Do you have any say on this?

  6. Hi Shah,
    Look this year with all the crackdown with H1B visa abuse you may want to proceed with caution. They often ask to verify companies via balance sheets, photos of company offices, etc. There is not to stop you being sponsored on an H1B visa in your circumstance just bearing in mind there may be extra scrutiny on your application given the size of the company.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  7. Hi CJ,

    My company agreed to sponsor my H1b at my own expense. I am fine with this, but given the attorney fee of $2000, I am hoping to find a cheaper option. What do you advise?

    Thanks,
    donna

  8. Hi Donna,
    It is actually illegal for you to pay for the application costs and legal fees although many companies do it. In terms of the $2,000 that seems to be about average and in actuality cheaper than a lot of things I have seen. Immigration lawyer costs are expensive which is part of the problem in this country. You can maybe try visapro.com and see if they have a cheaper option but unfortunately those are the types of costs you will be looking at. Be careful as well as that $2,000 may turn into a lot more as you go through the process, so choose your lawyer wisely and ask plenty of questions before choosing.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  9. Hi CJ,

    Could you tell me why it is illegal? and do you have any links to support that statement? would be really helpful.

    Thanks
    Abhi

  10. Hi CJ,
    I applied for H1B visa this year and my application got approved and I am to appear for my interview ,I have paid the expenses on my own through the company.on what grounds thay can reject any candidate in the Interview ..n If I will get any money back in case of rejection through my sponcer company.

    ~Sid

  11. Hi Sid,
    They can reject a candidate for 3 main reasons which the H1B visa (and most other work visas)
    1. The company is not legitimate
    2. Their is some issue with you as a candidate either because your experience/qualifications are not valid or relevant or maybe negative aspects of your past like a criminal history
    3. The job itself is not legitimate or relevant to the H1B visa
    Technically a candidate should not pay all the H1B visa costs themselves but many companies do insist on it. You really have no grounds to get the money back unless the company is willing to reimburse you if you get rejected.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  12. Hi Pep,
    If you read the H1B visa update you will see why people were still able to apply for the H1B visa so late in the year as the quota had not been finished. This quota was finally reached according to the USCIS on December 21st so now for new applicants to the H1B visa, you will have to wait until April 1, 2011 for FY2011 H1B visa season.
    CJ

  13. Hi;
    i have couple questions please.
    0ne; when is the last time to apply for H1b visa for this year?
    second; is there will be alottory this year or any one will get it?
    i will pay my employer $2500 including the fees and the lawyer fees, is that alot?
    fourth; do i have to have an interview ? even if i pay $1000 as premium filing fees i still have to have the interview?

  14. Hi Mohammad,
    1. There is no final time to apply, it is just when the H1B visa quota of 65,000 runs out. So get your Application in on April 1, 2010.
    2. There will only be a H1B visa lottery if too many applications are received following the April 1 commencement.
    3. These are the H1B visa costs. Those costs seem OK but note technically it is the responsibility of your sponsor employer to pay all those fees.
    4. If you apply for the H1B visa stamp outside the US then you have to go for a US Consulate Interview. If you are eligible to transfer visas within the US then you can file form I-539 with your H1B visa petition to the USCIS. The Premium Filing fee has nothing to do with having an interview or not and you should note that the premium filing fee only gives your employer or attorney access to the USCIS case officer and not yourself.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  15. Thanks alot CJ.. BUT I still have some confusion about the last question.
    I am applyong for H1B Visa from the USA cuz right now i am employed in the USA. so if i get the H1B visa and would like to go back home to Jordan for a visit, so do i have to go to the USA Embassy in Jordan to place it in the passport?if yes are they gonna interview me and have some chance not to get it stamped in my passport? or here in the USA, they will stamp it in my passport before i go to Jordan so in this case i dont have to go to the USA Embassy in jordan?

  16. Hi Mohammad,
    You can’t get visa stamps within the US. So if you leave the US, you will need to go to the US embassy in Jordan to be interviewed and get your H1B visa stamp in your passport. You can only continue to stay working in the US if you work status currently takes you past October 1 as that is when the H1B visa work status begins. If there is a gap then you will be out of status.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  17. Hi,

    I guess I have some troubles understanding… If I’m planning on applying for a job that’s starting August, 2011, when do I need to apply for h1b visa? I understand that visas for FY2010 are already gone, but if the H1B visa work status begins Oct 1st, than by when do I need to get my visa to start working in August, 2011???

  18. My company has is willing to sponsor my visa and file for my H1B on April 1st. If my company closes down due to no profits and my visa application is in process what should i do ? what will be my status in the USA ?

  19. Hi Ewa,
    The H1B visa has a fixed starting period in most cases being October 1. So if you were wanting to start work in August 2011, you would have to apply for the H1B visa this year and be approved because if you were to do the H1B visa process next year, the H1B visa period would begin in October 2011.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  20. Hi Sam,
    If your company ceases to exist while your H1B visa process is going on, then that application is obviously void and your status would be whatever your current visa situation is. If that visa is expired then you would be out of status and legally obliged to leave the US.
    CJ

  21. sorry I’m a little confused – if i apply on april 1st 2010, next month, when would my visa begin if i was successful??

  22. oh, and one more question for U if U could… do I understand correctly – are universities exempt from the 65,000 visas quota? and the starting date of Oct 1st doesn’t apply to universities??? I read it somewhere and I don’t know if I understood correctly…

  23. Hi Rachel,
    Sorry for the delay in reply. The H1B visa period always begins on October 1st. So if you are successful in your application, the visa itself will apply from October 1 onwards. (October 1 is the start of the US Immigration year).
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  24. Hi Ewa,
    Sorry for the delay in reply. Yes in general academic institutions and non-profit organizations are exempt from the H1B visa quota cap. As for the start date part, I have never heard of that being flexible as that is tied to the US Immigration year so would be pretty sure that October 1 start date would still be applicable.
    Thanks,
    CJ

  25. Hi Sylvano,
    Sorry for the delay in reply. If your brother is a US citizen, he can sponsor you as his sister and your daughter could come as well if she is under 21 and unmarried. However, the wait lists for US citizen sponsorship for siblings is very long so this would take a long time.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  26. can i get my H1B visa Stamp in the airport? because my employer told me i have 2 options, either USA embassy or USA Airport.
    thank you .

  27. I am currently on F-1 and my employer wants to sponsor me to work here, but he does not have a clue about it. I have found that I’d need I-129, I-9 and also e-verify (since that’s free). Found that I-129 is around $350. Is there any other fees involved with H1-B? And, how do I search for a good lawyer who is affordable (not like $2000 or such), so that the whole process comes to less than $3000 (in NY city). Also, would the fees that the employer pays for my H1-B have to be paid for every year, or is it just once – for the three year validity of the H1-B visa?? Also, would I have to file by the end of this April, to get my H1-B soon?? I’m a little confused about it, because I’m only graduating in May 2010. I’d be glad if you could answer in detail, with any more information.

  28. Hi Mohammad,
    You cannot get an H1B visa stamp within the US such as the airport. You can transfer within the US if you hold another current unexpired and non-exception visa. However even then you still don’t get an actual stamp as that can only be done outside the US.
    CJ

  29. Hi AK,
    Read this to get a better idea about costs; https://visacoach.org/2010/02/14/h1b-visa-fy2011-quota-predictions-costs-in-2010/. You will see that that all the relevant fees alone add up to a fair bit before any lawyer fees even come into it. NYC lawyers are probably even more expensive than other locales as well so doing the whole thing via a lawyer for under $3,000 will most likely be difficult. The full application fees are paid just once but if you transfer to another company or when you do your renewal after 3 years, you will have to pay the I-129 fee again. Your H1B visa period to be able to work under that status only begins from October 1. That is not negotiable. The application period for the H1B visa opens from April 1. If you graduate in May from a US college, then maybe you can work under OPT status (https://visacoach.org/2010/02/11/f1-visa-opt-occupational-practical-training-information/) for that interim period.
    Good Luck,
    CJ

  30. Hi,

    first of all THANK YOU. Your website and information has been more helpful than I am can even express. If you don’t mind me asking how did you gain so much knowledge about visa to America? Where did you immigrate from? Ok so my real question. I am American but my boyfriend and his brother are British. We are willing to hire lawyers and pay whatever we must to get them a green card. How does the whole process work? If I hire a lawyer to get them a green card is it a guarantee, or will I just be pissing away money? One last question, what is the best way to ask for a job in the states for them, how to they approach an employer? Thanks so much!

  31. Is an employer required to pay for the costs of an immigration attorney for an employee being sponsored for an H1B visa? If so, can the employer select the attorney? Can the employed tell the employee that they will pay for application costs but not for attorney fees?

  32. Hi Admin,

    Now that I know something about sponsorship for H1B visas, I have a question here.

    Is it possible for a sponsored applicant of H1B visa to get it transferred back to himself after stamping..? Assuming that he/she has not travelled to the US and another employer is ready to offer a job in the US.

    Regards,
    Kumar

  33. hey frnds,
    I just landed in US as on visitor , right now i am alone in US my wife and kid is in india. I have few queries kindly help me with that.
    1. how to go about extension for visitor visa and wat will b the charges?
    2. can any one give me any agents contact number who can help in with it and in future for H1 visa too.
    3. what are the charges for H1 visa ?
    4.what is the right time to call my wife and kid to US.
    5. Can i find a job myself in US ? is there any chances that any company help me to get H1 on the bases of my qualification.

  34. Hi,

    I need a change of status from F1 OPT to H1B.
    My company is ready to pay my filing fees including the premium processing fee. But they want me to find my own immigration lawyer and handle his fees. I would not mind paying close to 2000 for the lawyer fees, but I am not sure how to start.

    My questions are :

    1. Do I need a lawyer or can I use service like Visa Pro?
    2. Is it too late to apply for this years Master quota? I see there are 2800 Masters seats left. I could also apply for the next year since my OPT is valid till Nov 2011, but wanted to get this done this year with many seats left.

    Thanks.

  35. Hi Nani,
    Thanks for the kind words.
    You have to marry your boyfriend to get him a green card via you. Otherwise he needs to sponsored by an employer to sponsor him to get a work visa. The best way to try and find a job as a foreigner is the same as it would be for you, it is just tougher, particularly in this economy. There are so many pages on this site and this is one of them to help your and his search (https://visacoach.org/2009/09/06/top-4-tips-to-get-your-us-to-work/)
    Good Luck,
    Cj

  36. Hi DG,
    The way the law is written for the H1B, the employer should be paying all costs including legal fees. Often that does not happen in practice and it is fine and also many times, the applicant often hires their own lawyer which is also fine.
    Cj

  37. hello,

    My OPT visa is about to run out in July… I have a company that will employ me in my profession, however while working for them in my profession I want to open up a business on the side and be part of partnership with a different company… What is the best way to do this and what visas will I need get? Thank you

  38. FYI, if you need immigration help and cannot afford the exorbitant lawyer fees, then the Catholic Charities provided immigration services. They are an approved and licensed immigration services provider by USCIS/DHS. Their fees range from $0 to a few hundred. They have a sliding scale and they charge based on your ability to pay. I used them and my fees were nowhere near a thousand dollars. Just google them and find out the closest location/diocese in your area.

  39. Can you please recommend a good lawyer for H1 B ? I am a teacher in Indian reservation in AZ and my school wants to sponsor me for H1B. This means, I have to pay for the attorney charges. Please advise

  40. I know lots of foreign developers who have gone through Eikon Law for their H1-B visa process, they handle more corporate side visas though.

  41. Hi CJ,

    Can we file our own H1B and find job later after getting into US, Can any attorney help in this process. Any idea will help.

  42. I got my H1-B VISA Stamped in 2008 through a firm in India, however haven’t got a chance to visit US.
    Is there any remote chance for it to be valid even now, since i never used it .
    Or any workaround to get it renewed or so ?

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