H-1B visa is one of the most popular pathways for individuals looking to grow their careers with international experience in the United States. If you hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you are eligible to apply for the H-1B visa, which allows individuals to work in the U.S. for up to three years.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) mandates that noncitizens find an American company to sponsor them their H-1B visa application. Below, we explain how you can identify a sponsor if you hope to live and work in the U.S. If you’re looking for more information on the H-1 visa process as a whole, read our ultimate guide to the H-1 visa process here.
What is the H-1B visa?
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to skilled persons from around the world with a bachelor’s or master’s degrees. It allows noncitizens to obtain a work visa to enter and secure employment in the U.S.
With an H-1B visa, a foreign national may stay in the U.S. for an initial period of three years, which may be extended for three additional years.
Whether a foreign national wishes to work in the U.S. for three to six years or has plans to stay for the long-term, an H-1B status can be an excellent option to further an individual’s professional goals.
Qualifying for the H-1B visa
Noncitizens should be able to provide educational credentials and have a willing sponsor (employer). The H-1B petition will be filed by the employer on behalf of the foreign national worker they wish to sponsor.
The requirements for H-1B visa may also include:
A bachelor’s or master’s degree from the U.S. college or university, or a foreign- equivalent degree.
Degrees, certificates, qualifications, and deep knowledge pertaining to the role you are applying for.
A proven lack of U.S. citizens applying for the job, to be provided by the sponsoring employer.
Top companies that sponsor H-1B visas
Identifying the ideal H-1B sponsor may initially seem daunting for foreign nationals. One of the considerations that may cause confusion is whether it’s better to apply for larger or smaller firms.
Several small businesses in the U.S. sponsor H-1B visa, but they may be harder to identify or connect with.
Larger, more prominent employers have established programs for hiring noncitizens. Some of the most significant U.S. companies that sponsor H-1B visas include, but are not limited to:
Ernst and Young
Tata Consultancy Services
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Finding companies to sponsor your H-1B visa
One of the most significant hurdles in getting the H-1B visa is finding a company to sponsor your petition. There are, however, several options available to noncitizens who wish to work in the U.S.
Attend college or university in the U.S.
Many foreign nationals choose to work toward their bachelor’s or master’s degree in the U.S. Not only does this allow them to enter the U.S. and adapt to the culture, but it also may help with finding employment after graduation.
Students in the U.S. can apply for internships while in college that may lead to potential job offers once they graduate. Companies may be more likely to offer full-time positions and H-1B visa sponsorship to individuals whose work they’ve experienced firsthand.
Noncitizens who attend a college or university in the U.S. on a visa like the F-1 may be eligible to work during and after study. Such work can be possible through Optional Practical Training, or OPT.
OPT is applicable both during and after study, with a maximum period of 12 months. It is possible to extend the OPT period by up to 24 additional months if you obtain a STEM degree. STEM refers degree programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Many noncitizens spend one to three years working for a company through the OPT program before being sponsored by the same employer for an H-1B petition.
Browse through an H-1B sponsors database
The process of finding a company that sponsors H-1B visas may be made easier by searching through a database of H-1B sponsors. These lists of companies are available on several websites and can help noncitizens to discover information about companies willing to sponsor and hire qualified candidates from outside the U.S.
You can search for “H-1B sponsors database” and go through the many helpful results that may help you. To optimize your search, you may also filter the results based on location, job type, and other factors. These databases should help candidates come up with a list of companies that are relevant to their field.
As you create your list of companies that sponsor H-1B visas, include details about the business and other information such as location, company size, typical job openings, salaries, and the number of H-1B petitions they filed in previous years. These details may help you find the best options when searching for potential U.S. companies for sponsorship.
Perfect your resume and apply to open jobs
In most cases, the key to any successful job application is to stand out and show your best credentials to potential employers. It is no different when seeking a sponsor for an H-1B visa petition.
Ensure your resume includes the most relevant details about your education and professional experiences. Write a concise, appealing, and unique cover letter that helps you stand out from other candidates.
Companies that sponsor H-1B applicants every year are willing to consider noncitizens for specific positions. However, even companies that sponsor noncitizens may only do so for specific jobs, as certain positions may only be available to U.S. citizens.
Read through every job listing on websites such as LinkedIn as these usually mention the required legal status of applicants. If there is no mention of status, you may send an email inquiry to the company that may help you learn if they are considering noncitizens for the position.
Try to apply to as many jobs as possible during this process. Narrow the search based on the field of expertise, location, and other factors. The more CVs you send, the greater your chances of getting an interview.
What is the H-1B lottery?
Noncitizens who are able to find a company to sponsor their H-1B petition may enter into the H-1B lottery. It is a computer-generated random draw that decides who gets the chance to submit a full H-1B application.
The lottery is necessary due to H-1B caps set by USCIS and other government agencies. The current cap is set to 85,000, with 65,000 regular pool applicants and 20,000 slots reserved for advanced degree holders.
When a U.S. company agrees to sponsor a noncitizen for a job, the company files a petition to enter the applicant into the H-1B lottery.
After USCIS processes the lottery, they inform employers if their sponsored workers were selected. Those individuals may then begin working on their H-1B application.
H-1B visa application
The H-1B application process now follows the lottery, unlike previous years. Successful lottery entrants must submit the following forms as part of the application process:
The LCA provides information needed by the DOL to determine the validity of the job posting, potential salary, and other details about the sponsoring employer.
After the LCA is approved, the next step is submitting Form I-129, or the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to USCIS. The form includes details about the applicant and employer.
Fees for the H-1B visa application range from $5,710 to $7,210, depending on the company size of the sponsoring employer. Fees may be higher for companies with more employees.
All required H-1B fees are the responsibility of the sponsoring employer, not the foreign national applicant.
There is an option for premium processing which speeds up USCIS processing to 15 calendar days. Regular processing may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The fee for premium processing is the responsibility of the applicant and not the sponsoring employer as it is optional and does not impact the success or failure of an H-1B application.
A successful H-1B application allows a noncitizen to work in the U.S. for three years with the possibility of extending an additional three years.
H-1B visa to permanent residency in the U.S.
Successful H-1B applicants are provided with a work visa to enter and live in the U.S. for at least three years. The maximum duration for H-1B status, however, is only six years.
H-1B visa holders hoping to live in the U.S. for the long term can adjust their status before the end of the six-year time period. The best option for most skilled workers is to apply for an employment-based Green Card upon entering the sixth year of their H-1B visa. You can learn more about how to navigate the transition between H-1B visas and Green Cards here.
Green Card applications may take a significant amount of time to process, but it is possible to continue working in the U.S. on a visa while your Green Card application is pending. A Green Card grants noncitizens permanent residency in the U.S.
Whether you aim to boost your resume by working in the U.S., or you dream about living in the U.S. for the long term, the H-1B is the best option for achieving those goals.
The first step to a successful H-1B application is finding an employer that is willing to sponsor your H-1B petition.
Earn the necessary degrees, gain work experience, apply to jobs at U.S. companies that sponsor noncitizens, and within a few months you may have a new life in the U.S.
The H-1B visa offers skilled workers from around the world the chance to work and live in the U.S. It also benefits American companies that can hire talented individuals with skills that are scarce among the domestic workforce.
While the process of applying and obtaining the visa may appear daunting, this guide is intended to help simplify the process of starting your new life in the U.S. After you have been approved for your H1-B visa and are preparing to travel to the U.S., consider how you will live during your stay — especially how you manage your finances from setting up a bank account to managing your credit. In the U.S., credit history is important in securing things necessary for everyday life from credit cards to utilities and even your apartment.
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