If you are a Nigerian looking to work in America, you can apply for an H1-B visa. An H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa that lets employers in the US hire foreign workers with exceptional skills and qualifications. An H1-B visa allows foreign workers to live and work temporarily for their employers in the US.
H1-B visas can be a good option for some professional jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree. But if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you can substitute your degree with another qualification or work experience to fill the role. You can apply for an H1-B visa if you are eligible to work in a specialty job.
This job requires specialized knowledge. People with a career in architecture, engineering, technology, finance, information technology, mathematics, and more frequently seek H1-B visas. There is a cap on how many H1-B visas can be issued each fiscal year. The cap is set at 20,000 per fiscal year.
Additional petitions may be filed for applicants with a master’s degree or higher. The cap does not apply to nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, and government research organizations. Just like every other immigration process, the H1-B visa application process is not easy to go through.
This is especially true if you are a novice when it comes to US immigration laws. However, hiring an immigration attorney in Texas can make up for this weakness and greatly help you. Here is a quick guide to give you an idea of the H1-B visa process.
What is an H1-B visa?
H1-B visas are non-immigrant work visas issued by the US government to foreign professionals with specific knowledge or expertise in particular fields. An H1B visa, also known as a specialty occupation visa, allows foreign professionals to temporarily fill a position and live in the US for a specified period, usually up to 6 years.
H1-B visas are often applied for through a labor condition application. The goal of the H1-B visa program is to bring in highly skilled workers from all over the world to bring their expertise to the United States economy. It is a way for employers in the US to bring in foreign talent when there are shortages of qualified workers in the US.
The H1-B visa permits US employers to employ workers from another country, such as Nigeria, to fill a specialty occupation vacancy in the United States. An H1-B visa holder can remain in the United States for three years. This period may be extended. The maximum length of stay under an H1-B visa is six years.
However, the USCIS may allow a more extended period of stay under certain circumstances. You must meet the requirements before submitting your application. In most cases, visa fees are non-refundable. You can learn more about what an H1-B visa entails by talking with an immigration attorney in Texas.
What jobs are considered as specialty?
The most significant thing to remember is that the job you want in the US must be in the specialty occupation category. This means you must have a certain level of experience and knowledge in a specific field. Some specialty occupations listed on the specialty visa list are architects, doctors, and teachers.
If you are unsure whether your profession falls in the specialty occupations category, contact an immigration attorney in Texas. They can help you determine if your job role falls under this category.
The rights of an H1-B visa holder
Nigerians who get an H-1B visa have several rights as an employee.
- Your employer must pay you the same wage as other workers with similar qualifications and experience or the prevailing wage in the area of employment.
- Your employer must provide you with a copy of your LCA.
- Your employer must offer you additional benefits like those provided to other workers.
- Your employer must compensate you for lost productive time due to your lack of a license or work permit.
There are many more rights you can get to know about when you speak with an immigration attorney in Texas.
Who is eligible?
As a Nigerian, the things that make one eligible for an H1-B visa are strict, especially for specialty occupations. Here are the conditions you must meet to be eligible:
1. School requirements.
The first thing that must be in place for you to be eligible for an H1-B visa is a bachelor’s degree. You must have a degree in a particular field of study, like engineering, computer science, or medicine. This requirement can be waived. This is in cases where the applicant has substantial work experience.
The work experience must be relevant to the role. For instance, working experience as an accountant and studies for accountancy qualification for 4 years or more can be considered equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the H1B visa application.
2. You must have a US job offer.
It is not enough to have a degree. You must have a verified job offer from an American company ready to sponsor your H1-B visa. To work in the US, you must have an employment agreement with an American company that wishes to hire you. Also, the applicant must have an unrestricted right to practice the profession in the United States.
3. The US employer must meet labor conditions.
The sponsoring employer is responsible for demonstrating two key elements:
- There is an evident shortage of US-qualified professionals for the role in question.
- Ensure that hiring a foreign national does not adversely affect the salary or working conditions of current US employees in similar roles.
4. Skill and experience.
In addition to your academic qualifications, you will also need practical experience. Practical skills are those that meet the needs of the role. Once you meet these requirements, you can apply for H1-B visas through USCIS through a labor condition application.
These requirements can be a lot to handle. Still, with the help of an immigration attorney in Texas, you can determine if you are eligible without stress.
The application processes
Both the H1-B visa applicant and the potential employer must go through the following steps to apply for an H1-B visa:
- First, employers must go through an online registration process on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, providing details about their business and each H1-B applicant they wish to hire. This process costs a fee per H1-B visa candidate.
- Employers must complete and submit Form ETA- 9035 to the Department of Labor (DOL) 6 months before the foreign employee begins. It is a mandatory form that is necessary to protect H1-B workers. The LCA sets out criteria such as fair wage, place of employment, benefits, and more. The US employer and foreign employee must agree to abide by the terms and conditions of the H1-B visa. Within 7 days, the DOL will be the LCA.
- Form I-29 is what the US employers must submit to USCIS to file a petition. This form must include all fees and an evaluation. It must also include supporting documents such as the applicant’s resume and employment agreements, letters of support, and the approval LCA for the non-immigrant worker. This process takes from 3 to 4 months. Unless the applicant opts for the premium processing option, which includes a high processing fee. If you require premium processing, an immigration attorney in Texas can help.
- If the petition is approved, it will depend on whether you are still residing in Nigeria or already residing in the United States on another visa. If you are residing in Nigeria, you must go to the US Consulate in Nigeria for consular processing. There, you will submit Form DS-160 and other supporting documents. When you enter America, you must apply for entry at the US border. If you are already in the United States when your petition is approved for admission, you should proceed to your US port of entry, complete Form I-94, and legally immigrate to the United States on an H1-B visa.
- After that, you will have a visa interview at your country’s closest US embassy or consulate. You will be informed whether your visa has been approved.
If your US employer terminates your employment before the end of the allowed time, your employer pays your return transport costs. Your employer does not pay your return transport costs if you resign.
The details of the H1-B visa application process can be daunting. Still, you can get an immigration attorney in Texas to help you.
Now that you know the basics about H1-B visa applications, it is essential to remember that this is just the start. If you are a Nigerian who wants to work in the US, hiring a skilled immigration attorney in Texas is a great way to help your application go smoothly and successfully.
At Gehi and Associates, our immigration attorneys are well-versed in the H1-B visa process. They would be more than happy to help you with your visa applications. It is never too late to prepare for your H1-B application! If you have any questions about the H1-B visa, contact us today!
1. Can I remain in the US on the H1-B visa and work as self-employed?
No, you cannot. You must be employed by a sponsoring US employer for a specialty job.
2. Can my Nigerian spouse come with me on an H1-B visa?
H1-B visa applicants often want their spouses and children to travel with them. If the spouse gets an H-4 visa, they can accompany the H1-B visa applicant. Since 2015, H-4 visa holders have been able to work in the H4 Employment Authorization Document (H4 EAD) program under certain circumstances.
H-4 visa holders can also enroll their children in school. Children under 21 with an H-4 visa can travel with the H1-B visa applicant. The dependent spouse should get health insurance coverage before going to the US because of the high cost of health care in the US.
3. When can I get my H1-B visa after the application?
The processing time for H1-B visas varies depending on the country. US embassies in various countries and cities have different processing times. For more information, please get in touch with an immigration attorney in Texas.
4. Do I have to pay taxes as an H1-B visa holder?
Yes, you have to pay state and federal taxes. You also must pay social security taxes and Medicare.