The American federal government has announced that the country has reached the limit for H-1B visa application for 2022. The 2023 visa application process will begin soon.
What is the H-1B visa?
The USA have hundreds of different visas. Each one is intended for a specific purpose of travel, so anyone travelling to America should carefully figure out which visa applies to their situation. Engaging in activities that are not covered by the visa may result in deportation and possibly even exclusion from future visa application.
The H-1B visa is a work visa intended for specialized workers who want to be employed by an American company. It is the most popular work visa among foreign professionals as it allows American companies to recruit foreign workers, which is much needed in some industries due to the shortage of specialized workers in the USA. The H-1B visa is especially popular among tech companies, which hire tens of thousands of workers each year from countries like India or China. The H-1B visa process is not easy and it can also be quite expensive. Depending on certain criteria related to the employer and other additional costs such as legal fees, applying for the H-B1 visa can quickly cost upwards of $5000. The costs must be covered by the employer.
2022 limit reached
The H-B1 visa application limit is set by the US Congress. In 2022, this limit is 65,000 regular applications and 20,000 extra for specific categories of workers. This limit has now been reached for the year 2022. It does not mean that the number of applications was exceptionally high. In fact, applications started back in April 2021, and as of March 1, 2022, applications for 2023 can already be submitted.
As a matter of fact, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the department of the federal government responsible for H-B1 visa applications, struggled to reach the 2022 limit. Normally, the USCIS receives more than enough applications after the first round to reach the limit. However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies decided not to bring in foreign workers temporarily. This was partly due to many countries advising to work from home, which reduced the need for companies to recruit foreign workers. In addition, some countries where H-B1 is especially popular, such as India, have been offering higher wages to specialized workers in recent years, making them less likely to leave. Due to the shortage of visa applications, the USCIS had to hold multiple visa lotteries to achieve the maximum number of applications.
Working in America: visa not always necessary
The H-1B work visa is intended for foreigners who will be employed by an American company. Travellers who do not plan on being employed by an American company can instead figure out if an ESTA is sufficient for their trip. The benefit of an ESTA is that it is granted much faster than a visa and the price is much lower. An ESTA allows you to negotiate with American companies, do consulting work with American clients and even do repair or installation work among other things. As long as you are not employed by a US employer, an ESTA can be used for work-related travel.
However, not everyone qualifies for an ESTA. To be eligible, you must be a national of one of the countries in the US government’s Visa Waiver Program. An ESTA is also valid for a shorter period of time than a visa; you can stay in America for a maximum of 90 days. For a long-term work agreement, a visa is therefore a necessity.
Take note: this news article about the ESTA for the USA is more than one year old. It might contain outdated information and advice, and no rights can therefore be derived from this article. Are you going on a trip soon and do you wish to do know what rules currently apply? Read all about the up-to-date information about the ESTA for the USA.