H1B Visa Application Process
The number of US H1B visa applications rose from 124,000 in 2014 to 236,000 in 2017, says an report by Pew Research Centre. If you are planning to apply for this visa type, the first thing you need to do is to find a sponsor employer. The employer or company will have to file a petition for your H1B visa with the US Immigration Department. Once your petition is approved, you will be provided a work permit, Form I-797, which allows you to obtain an H1B visa and work in the United States.
How to Apply for an H1B Visa
Step 1: Complete the Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application
First, you need to fill in the Non-Immigrant Visa Electronic Application or Form DS-160 online. You need to fill in all your details accurately, because you can’t save the form and fill it later. If you don’t feel confident filling the form yourself, ask for help from someone who has done it before or an immigration lawyer. Once you have completed and submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation letter with a 10-digit barcode, which will be required for scheduling your visa interview. You can check the details of the application on this website.
Step 2: Pay the visa fees
You can pay the visa fee electronically too, via bank transfer, or can choose to pay it in cash from a designated Axis or Citibank branch. The visa fee page describes the various modes through which you can make the payment. You will have to create a profile on the US Visa Service site and choose a suitable mode of payment. After you have paid the fee, you will get a receipt. Take a print out of the fee receipt and keep it handy.
Step 3: Schedule a visa interview
After paying the visa fee, you need to book two appointments, one at the Visa Application Centre and the other at the US embassy or consulate closest to you. You can check the details and documents required for scheduling the appointments at this site.
Don’t forget to get Travel Insurance
It’s a great idea to get Travel insurance when traveling to USA. As medical cost (even for the common cold) can run into hundreds of dollars in the US, it is recommended that you get good medical insurance, before your trip. Good thing is that if you buy it online before your trip, it may be cheaper.
Step 4: Visit the nearest Visa Application Centre
Make sure you schedule the appointment at the Visa Application Centre at least 2 days before your visa interview at the embassy. You will have to submit your biometrics and photograph at the centre. You will need to bring your passport, confirmation page for Form DS-160 and confirmation page of the visa appointments to the centre.
Step 5: Go for your visa interview at US embassy
Now, you need to appear for an interview with the consular officer, who will ask you some basic questions about your education, family and reason to visit the USA. You will need to carry the following documents with you to the embassy:
- Your current and older passports.
- A passport size photograph.
- The confirmation page of Form DS-160, stamped by the Visa Application Centre.
- The appointment letter for the visa interview.
- Supporting documents, such as educational, financial, character and medical certificates.
You should also remember that there is a lottery system for the H1B visa process. The maximum number of H1B visas provided ever year is 65,000 and the quota for applicants with a Master’s degree is 20,000. You are eligible for the H1B visa application process, only if you get selected in this lottery system.