A Summary of the H-1B Visa
The American government, specifically through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, initiated a category of visas designed for workers with special skills. Employers with vacancies that fit the criteria of a “specialty job” may reach out to foreign labor if they have permission from the Department of Labor and USCIS.
As a foreign worker, if you meet the criteria to fill that job opening, you can apply for an H-1B visa. It’s not a simple process, as you need to submit your petition and enter a lottery (unless your job is cap-exempt). Should your petition be selected in the lottery, you then begin the process of applying to USCIS for approval for the visa.
The final step includes a lengthy biometrics and interview appointment. After all of that is completed, you receive a visa stamp on your passport that permits you to live and work in the US. If you want to bring your family, they can come with you, but they must have individual documentation and, in some cases, a separate interview.
The Family-Friendly Benefits of the H-1B Visa
Under the terms of the H-1B visa, beneficiaries and their family receive an initial three years to live and work in the US. During that time, they can gain employment, buy and rent homes, go to school, and engage in nearly every activity a US citizen does — provided they complete any necessary paperwork with the government.
However, non-US citizens cannot vote, and attempting to cast a vote during an election is a quick way to find yourself deported.
But what makes the H-1B even more popular is that it is a legal route to permanent lawful citizenship. Called a “dual-intent” card, the H-1B gives its holder permission to apply for a Green Card while in the US. This process is complicated and can take years, but once it is approved, the holder’s status moves from “nonimmigrant” to “immigrant.” They are provided a Permanent Resident Alien Card, referred to as a Green Card. This card is a person’s official right to live and work in the US permanently with no restrictions.
Applying for a family-based immigrant visa requires paying attention to dates and understanding which preference system you fall under. There isn’t a guarantee that you’ll receive Permanent Resident status at the same time the rest of your family does. However, provided you and your family are in the process of obtaining your Green Card, you should still have the legal right to remain in the US.
Visas are limited. When you apply, you must complete the paperwork and then wait for a visa in your category to become available. These fall into four categories:
● First preference: referring to all unmarried adult children of US citizens,
● Second preference: referring to spouses and dependent, unmarried children of US citizens under the age of 21,
● Third preference: referring to married children of US citizens
● Fourth preference: referring to siblings of adult US citizens
A separate preference refers to immediate relatives, including spouses, parents, siblings, and children of US citizens. Immigrant visa numbers are available right away for these individuals.
Underneath the preferences categories, each visa petition has a priority date. Should you or your relative file a petition on someone else’s behalf, the priority date is the date that USCIS officially received the paperwork.
In addition to the forms required, you must include documentation that proves the petitioner is a legal US citizen or Green Card holder. You’ll also need to have proof of the relationship between you and your relative.
After approval from the USCIS, the person who filed the petition is notified, and the visa petition is forwarded to the Department of State’s National Visa Center. When an immigrant visa number is available, the center notifies the beneficiary. Alien Registration Green Cards are issued in ten-year increments.
Getting your family to the US and applying for permanent resident status are all excellent goals. But the first step is to apply for an H-1B visa, and that process can be challenging. That’s why most people use immigration experts like Visa2US to help them through each step.
At Visa2US, our skilled legal professionals are here 24/7 to answer your questions and guide you as you make this major career and life change.