H-1B is a non-immigrant visa, that is given to individuals whose specialty occupation requires hands on experience. The application for this visa has to be submitted by the employed, and the applicant must have completed their bachelors or the equivalent in their field. The H-1B visa is given for a period of three years, and can be extended for another three years if desired.
Typical fields of study for H-1B:
These visas are not common, according to the US Citizen and Immigration Services around 65,000 of them are issued on a fiscal year. The first 20,000 applicants are exempt from the cap, making it extremely competitive; because they are so competitive they fill up quickly and thus you need to start planning and applying ahead of time.
Keep in mind that the US fiscal starts on Oct.1, but the petitions for H-1B visa fill up to 6 months before.
Requirements for the Visa
To be eligible for the H-1B visa, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Existing employer- employee relationship
- Your job must be considered a special occupation
- Your job must be related to your field of study
- You must be paid the actual or prevailing salary for your occupation.
- An H-1B visa number must be available at the time of filing the petition, unless the petition is exempt from numerical limits.
Please check the USCIS website to get further detail on the specific requirements and get any additional information.
Since the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were passed, the US healthcare system has undergone many changes. Citizens and permanent resident of the USA are now required by law to have health insurance coverage that is ACA compliant. Failure to comply with such will result in a fine in your taxes.
H-1B visa holders, based on their federal tax status will determine whether or not that applies for them. Normally a ‘non-resident alien’ for tax purposes is not obliged to maintain an ACA compliant plan. On the other hand, once they become a ‘resident alien’ for tax purposes, they will be held accountable for having an ACA compliant plan, just like any other US citizen or permanent resident.
When you are looking for a health insurance plan as an H-1B visa holder, there are two important time periods to keep in mind:
Non-resident Alien Status (6-10 months): During this time, you are not required to have an ACA compliant health insurance plan. Generally, this period is from the time you begin your OPT, it typically lasts 6 to 10 months. Remember, the period when you go from a non-resident alien status to a resident alien, will depend greatly on when you entered the country or when you lost the student status.
*For this period of time there are many great plans available for you on G4ST. These plans are short term (up to a year) and will work perfectly until you need to get an ACA compliant plan.
Resident Alien Status: When your status become resident alien, you will be held accountable for having an ACA compliant health insurance plan, just like any US citizen or resident. There are many different options for people who require ACA compliant plans, you can either get an employer sponsored insurance or insurance through the state. You also have a third option while your employers plan kicks in. Some individuals prefer to not get an ACA compliant plan, and just pay the fine in their taxes.