The Standards for a Specialty Occupation
Not just any US-based employer can hire someone from another country. The hiring employer and potential employee must meet the qualifications for a specialty occupation, as set by section 101(a)(15)(H) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Under these standards, a foreign worker and his or her immediate family may enter the US to live and work for three years under an H-1B visa. If all requirements for an extension are met, the stay may be extended another three years.
To be considered a specialty occupation, the job must require a standard minimum of a bachelor’s degree and highly-developed skills obtained through education and experience only. As for developers, there are other entry requirements an individual must have to qualify for this visa.
Requirements for Developers Under an H-1B
The tech industry is booming, and the US needs developers to stay on the field's cutting edge. But to qualify for the H-1B visa, an individual has to meet rigid standards.
The job is extremely complex, and USCIS, the department that determines an individual’s ability to qualify for the visa, will review your experience thoroughly. You’ll need to show that you have the skills necessary to complete more than the basic tasks in a developer’s job, such as:
● Writing programs
● Creating upgrades
● Fixing viruses and bugs
● Testing software
● Changing programs to enhance the quality of the customer’s experience
Although the USCIS officer reviewing your documentation may not know everything about the role of a developer, they’ll have a framework they use to decide if your education and experience are up to par. This will include factors such as:
● A bachelor’s degree or higher in a field related directly to developing and common to those in comparable industries;
● A Labor Condition Approval (LCA) from the Department of Labor that includes the terms and conditions of the work contract;
● Clear evidence that the employee has the expertise and skills to perform the job duties stated on the LCA;
● Evidence from the employer that they attempted and failed to find qualified workers in the US to do the job.
In addition to these requirements, the employer must pay the applicable fees and charges to file for the H-1B visa. The employee may choose to pay for premium processing.
What H-1B Developers Heading to the US Can Expect
Although H-1B visa petitions go through a lottery process that randomizes the approval, developers have a high rate of positive petitions.
Should your petition be chosen in the lottery, you can expect to receive a prevailing wage that meets or exceeds the average income for developers in the US. Currently, the average income is $110,140 annually, or slightly over $9,000 per month. Junior developers receive a reduced wage of nearly $70,000, or almost $6,000 monthly.
The income you receive depends on the company you work for and the geographic location of the job. Certain cities, like San Francisco, Seattle, and San Jose, pay their developers more than most places in the country.
Your H-1B Visa Processing Time
Unlike other visas, processing an H-1B document is extensive and time-consuming. How long yours takes depends on the workloads of the government agencies involved at the time your petition hits their system. You’re dealing with the Department of Labor and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, both of which are always busy.
The DoL usually takes around 14 days to process the employer’s Labor Condition Approval if the company is already in the system. But if it’s a new business or a first-time file, this will take longer.
USCIS’s processing time to review and determine if the criteria meet the LCA’s specifications is anywhere from three weeks to 11 months. The service center’s workload is the main factor impacting this time frame.
If the service center chooses to approve the petition, the H-1B visa is issued. However, if there are mistakes or missing documentation, this will delay the approval or denial while the center waits for further information.
Your career as a developer can be extremely lucrative and successful, and your H-1B visa may be what you need to grow professionally. Obtaining an H-1B visa can seem as complicated as your developer’s skills, though. Instead of trying to ensure you don’t have any “bugs” on your application, hire an expert to do the job, like Visa2US.
At Visa2US, our expert legal staff knows the ins and outs of immigration law as well as you know coding and programming. Let us help you successfully apply for your H-1B visa the first time without mistakes and costly delays.
Contact our office over the phone or online any time, day or night, and we’ll answer your questions and guide your steps to help you move to the US as an H-1B visa developer.