How to Work in America for Foreigners
The Land of Opportunity
The US has long been viewed as the land of opportunity, where you can find success in anything you set your mind to. From the tech industry in California to finance in New York, you will have lots of opportunities to further your career in this vast nation. Although new H1B visas for the US will not be issued for the rest of 2020, American embassies have begun to open back up around the world, and it’s best to start as early as possible on the visa application process. On this page, you’ll get an overview of the application process for an H1B visa, which is what you’ll likely use to live and work in the US. We hope that following this guide will make your transition abroad as smooth as possible and make your dream a reality.
First, let’s talk about what the H1B visa entails. Commonly known as a US work visa, H1B is a nonimmigrant, employment-based visa that is granted to you as an eligible temporary worker. Before you do anything, your employer must file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) on your behalf with US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once approved, USCIS sends your employer a Notice of Action (form I-797), which allows you to begin the process of obtaining a H1B visa and hopefully starting a new life in the US.
A. Complete the online visa application
THe H1B visa application (form DS-160) must be completed online, at the Department of State website. You must also submit a digital photograph along with your application.
Once you complete the application, you will receive a confirmation with a 10-digit barcode number. Make sure you keep track of this confirmation page because you will need it to arrange your visa interview appointment.
B. Schedule an interview
Once you complete form DS-160, you should quickly schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the closest US embassy or consulate in the country where you live. Make sure to complete the non-refundable visa application payment. If you wait until the last minute to book your interview, you may not get your preferred date and time, so don’t take the risk!
You will need to provide the following to schedule a visa interview:
- Passport valid for at least 6 months after your intended period of stay
- Visa application payment receipt
- Form DS-160 10-digit barcode number
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location and time of year, so make sure to review the expected interview wait time for your location to give you a sense of scheduling.
C. Schedule and attend your biometric services appointment
After scheduling your visa interview, you need to schedule a biometric services appointment at a local application support center (ASC). The appointment should be at least one day in advance of your interview. You will receive a notice from USCIS with the date and time of your appointment, where your fingerprints and photographs will be taken.
You will need to bring:
- Your ASC appointment notice (Form I-797C)
- Valid photo ID (passport, driver’s license, etc.)
After the biometric services appointment, all that is required is for you to attend your visa interview.
D. Attend your visa interview
You’ve come a long way, and you’re almost done! Visit the US embassy or consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. Make sure you bring each one of the following documents:
- Visa interview notice
- Your passport, as well as all old passports (if applicable)
- A photograph in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements
- Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129
- Notice of Action, Form I-797
- Application fee payment receipt
During your visa interview, a consular officer will ask you questions to determine whether you meet the requirements to receive an H1B visa. After your interview, your application may require further processing, and you will be informed by the officer if this is the case.
When the H1B visa is approved, your passport with the visa will be returned to you. You are now able to visit and work in the US without needing extra paperwork. Congratulations, now go make your dreams a reality!