The US government has suspended H-1B visa till the end of this year, creating a lot of problem for Indian professionals who happen to be one of the biggest beneficiaries. 

What is H-1B visa though? Here, we try to understand that better.

1. What is H-1B visa?

You need this visa to work in the US. It used by companies to hire ‘highly skilled’ professionals by sponsoring them into America.

2. What does ‘highly skilled’ mean?

It means that the person either has enough experience in the field in discussion or has specialised knowledge and a bachelor’s degree in the field.

3. What all benefits does a person get under this visa?

They get to obtain a social security number, a driver’s license, and the freedom to own/rent a car and property. Apart from this, they can also open a bank account in the US.

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4. How long does the visa last?

3 years. Beyond which, it can be extended for 3 more.

5. What happens in case the person loses their H-1B job?

They have to leave the US within 60 days.

6. What is H1-B visa cap?

The number of visas made available by the US government.

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Each fiscal year, the US government decides how many visas it will give. Right now the number is 65,000. There are additional 20,000 visas for foreign workers who have received higher education from an American university.

7. Can a person get the H-1B visa while living outside of the US?

Yes, they can. The employer has the freedom of applying for the visa for the employee. They then have to go to the US embassy/consulate in their country and get the stamp.

8. Is changing jobs possible for an H-1B visa holder?

Yes. But the new employer also must apply for the visa. Also, a petition has to be filed if your role within the same company is being significantly changed. This is called ‘H-1B portability’.

9. What status does the family of an H-1B holder have?

Holder’s immediate family – spouse and kids under 21 years of age – can apply for H-4 visa. Under this, they can stay in the country but are not allowed to work (except for limited situations).

10. Who doesn’t need to file for H-1B visa to hire a foreign employee?

Universities and related nonprofit entities, government research organizations and nonprofit research organizations.

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The suspension of H-1B means no US company will be able to employ a foreign professional under the visa till the end of 2020. The move has been heavily criticised the world over.