Tag Archives: h1b application

H-1B Visa Timeline of Events

A lot of people get confused at the arbitrary nature of the visa process and how long it actually takes. Whether you are a foreigner who has come to the US on Visa Waiver Program with an ESTA, the B-1 Visa or currently in the US in another capacity on the F-1 Visa for students, OPT status, J-1 Visa for interns or some other US visa, so many would like to work in the US and the best route for that in most cases is the H-1B visa.

So we will talk strictly about the general timeline of events and what you can expect to help you plan your time.

1. Searching for a Job (unknown but in most cases allowing yourself 3 months would be seen as prudent)

2. Job Offer & Negotiation (you might agree to be hired but to negotiate on salary + bonus, equity if any, severance and any other terms you might see as important  might take 1 week to finalize)

3. Filing ETA-9035(e) with Department of Labor (Once the document is filed electronically it takes about 7-10 days to get approval however any requests for more information can delay that and if your company is a first timer at doing it and/or slow moving legal counsel is involved this process from beginning to end can take around 3-4 weeks)

4 Filing I-129 with USCIS (This is actually the real Immigration step of filing for your approval whether you are inside or outside the US at the time. If you are doing this with normal processing periods and assuming you have no additional requests for information the approval and resulting I-797 will come in 2-3 months. If you have premium processing this will take about 2-3 weeks but that costs an extra $1,000. The preparing of this package and getting all the checks signed to file can take some time if done by lawyers and employers and that might add an additional 1-3 weeks before the package is even sent)

5. Applying for H-1B visa at a US Consulate (Depending on which consulate you apply at it can take be immediate up to 2 months to schedule an interview date so important to plan ahead and be aware of where you are applying and the appropriate wait times. After applying assuming you don’t go through Administrative Processing, you will usually receive your passport with visa stamp 2-3 days after your interview)

6. Commencing Work (If you are on a new H-1B visa the period to start work is from October 1 onwards. Unless you have a prior work status that allows you to work up until that date, you will have to wait to work)



H1B Visa Lottery 2013

So the predictions have come true for H1B Visa season in April 2013 (also known officially with the USCIS as FY2014 as the H1B visas once awarded take effect on October 1, 2013 which is the start of the 2014 Financial Year for immigration).

In the first five days between April 1-5, 2013, the USCIS received 124,000 applications. The problem is there are only nominally 85,000 H-1B visas available of which 20,000 are allocated under the Advanced Degree Exemption for foreigners who complete a graduate degree at an accredited US University. Also some of those H-1B visas are reserved for H-1B1 visas for Chilean and Singaporian nationals under respective Free Trade agreements with US although this number tends to be very small an no more than a couple of thousand annually. It should be noted that most non-profit, education related and government employers don’t have their successful H-1B applicants count against the 85,000 cap. Nor do prior approved H-1B visa transfers or renewals count against the current cap.

So the dreaded H-1B Visa Lottery has come true for 2013. This is the first time since 2008 there has been an H-1B visa lottery and only the third one ever after 2007 and 2008. Both those years had greater number of applications with over 190,000 and 160,000 respectively. So this year based purely on numbers, assuming your application and employment is all fine as well as you as the candidate you would seem to have a 75% chance of having your application assessed and hopefully then approved. There is also a portion of junk applications as well so your chances might be even better than that and certainly better than H1B candidates in 2007 and 2008.

However this is not an easy time for H1B applicants, their family and friends and even their employers. This highlights all that is wrong with the current US Immigration policy where high qualified candidates who will help the US economy as has repeatedly been proven in studies could be sent home when there is over abundance of need and shortage of supply of local candidates.

Note this should not be confused with the Green Card Lottery which is a true lottery based almost exclusively on luck and awards about 55k Green Cards annually to those that enter.

Good luck to all the H-1B applicants in 2013!