Tuesday, February 05, 2008

H-1B documentation

If you have any questions after reading this, please join H1Bfaqs group. And go through the archives.

Deadline for first time H-1s
  • Masters degree holders in US (or any other US degree) - Feb 29th, 2008
  • Foreign degree holders - Feb 22, 2008. We need 2 weeks for educational evaluation

Comprehensive list of documents for those in India and in US, both for initial and transfers. If you don't understand a document requirement below, it means you don't need it. For example, if you've never been to US, you won't have an I-94 and don't have to worry about sending it.

DO NOT Submit Originals - submit photocopies
Clear copies of the documents only in A4/Letter size (Not legal size)
  • Degree and Certificates in related field with marksheets or transcript
  • All prior work experience letters from previous employers on their company letterhead
  • ALL PAGES of Passport
  • I-94 copy
  • H-1B Approval Notice, VISA and I-94 (with clear dates of arrival) if already in USA on H-1B
  • H4, B1/B2 or SEVIS (I-20), F-1 VISA with I-94 if applicable (for you or your spouse)
  • ALL I-20s, OPT card
  • Current 5-6 pay stubs if already on H-1B, L1, L2
  • Educational evaluation report if any
  • US Employment Authorization Document if applicable
  • All prior Non-Immigration H/L visa Approval( I797) if applicable
  • On a separate sheet - exact dates of any prior stays in the U.S. in H visa status
  • On a separate sheet - your address in USA and foreign country (Eg.India), give the date of last Arrival
  • Copy of Social Security card (If available)
  • Marriage Certificate (For Candidates currently in H4 visa status only)
  • Resume

Scanning Instructions:

  • Faxing is not acceptable. Copies need to be high resolution.
  • Scan using a high resolution scanner. The formats and resolutions would be different, eg., bmp, jpg, png, tiff, 1640 * 1800, etc.
  • We need copies in easily printable format. Convert everything to Adobe PDF. Use CutePDF to print to PDF if you don't have Adobe Acrobat.
  • Merge the PDFs to create a few files. One pdf for passport, one for certificates, etc.
  • Use gmail, which allows attachments upto size 20 MB.
  • If you are compressing the files, rename the file extension, like so: files.zip to files.zip.REMOVEME. Extension .zip extension not allowed in gmail.
  • Anything more than that, you need to reconsider your scanning options and scan to jpg, then convert to pdf and so on and so forth.

Filing Options

For those in the US on different status (L1, L2, H4, etc), you can choose one of the following:

  • H-1 application with change of status (I-539 ?) - this is the standard way. This will automatically change your visa status from what you have to H-1 on October 1, 2008. What this means is that you can't work in US (L1) with your previous employer anymore. And for those in L2/H4, you are now in a work visa, which means you need to have regular paystubs from your employer, otherwise, you would go out of status. Your H-1 approval, I-797A, would come with new I-94.
  • Another way of filing is to opt for consular processing which requires you to go out of the country to get the visa stamped on your passport when you want to switch. This gives you the flexibility needed, if you are on L1 and would like to decide when to switch.
Filing for H-4
  • All H-4s, opt for consular processing. You would be disinclined to move from your current location, which creates some placement challenges. If you are on H-1 and not working, you would be out of status. Best course of action is to opt for consular processing, and when you are ready, get H-1 stamped. You would have the luxury of being in H-4 and not worry about maintaining status.
  • As an aside, consider pursuing a Master's degree. Some states offer resident/in-state tuition for temporary work aliens too. One of them is California. There is one more, which I don't remember. Perhaps Massachusetts?

Filing Options for L-1/L-2
  • If you are on L1 and your wife is working on EAD (L2), this creates interesting combination problems. Always opt for consular processing. You don't know who would be picked up in the lottery.
  • If the L2/EAD spouse gets through the lottery, you are in good shape. You can use L1 and H1 combination.
  • If the L1 holder gets through, consular processing would give you time to evaluate the situation and see what is the best course of action.

Filing address
  • For Masters students is (was) different. Confirm with lawyer before mailing out.
  • For non-quota H-1 is different. I guess everything goes to CA. (look at comments)

Stamping Issues

Stamping issues go here - don't print documents in India, print everything in US.

If you have any questions after reading this, please join H1Bfaqs group. And go through the archives.


yogijp said...


Effective January 30, 2008, H-1B petitions exempt from the “H-1B cap” or quota should be submitted to a new processing unit at the California Service Center . Cap-exempt petitions include those filed on behalf of employees of higher education institutions, nonprofit entities or organizations affiliated with higher education institutions, certain nonprofit research organizations and governmental research organizations, and certain physicians previously in J 1 status. Petitions on behalf of employees subject to the expanded quota for holders of a U.S. master’s degree or higher are not considered cap-exempt and need not be filed with the cap-exempt processing unit. Likewise, requests for change of employer or extension of stay for persons already counted against the H quota are not considered cap exempt for purposes of the new filing rule. USCIS instructions indicate that cap exempt petitions received by other service centers will be forwarded to the cap-exempt unit. We expect that, after some brief “grace period,” USCIS will announce its intention to reject any cap-exempt petitions filed elsewhere.

The cap-exempt unit’s addresses are:


U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

California Service Center

ATTN: CAP EXEMPT H-1B Processing Unit

P. O. Box 30040

Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-3004


U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

California Service Center

ATTN: CAP EXEMPT H-1B Processing Unit

2400 Avila Road, Room 2312

Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

The instructions encourage petitioners to “mark the outside of the envelope and the top margin of the I-129 form with ‘EXEMPT’” to facilitate processing.

yogijp said...

U.S. worried that high H-1B demand may tempt some to 'game' visa lottery

One possible penalty from the USCIS, Loughran believes, will be the rejection of all visa petitions from a company if multiple petitions are filed for the same individual. Companies may also be penalized if they try to get their applicants a visa under the H-1B cap of 20,000 visas (in addition to the 65,000 previously mentioned) that are set aside for advanced-degree holders.

yogijp said...


yogijp said...