The H-1B visa is otherwise known as the Persons with Specialty Occupation visa. It is one of the U.S nonimmigrant visas. H-1B is one of the most popular work visas for foreign employees. It is for those who have extensive skills but cannot get an Employment-Based Green Card.
One of the advantages of the H-1B visa is that it allows the holder to move and work in the U.S. It gives the opportunity to get a U.S driver’s license and other documents. Additionally, it is also a dual intent visa. This means that it allows the holder to apply for an immigrant visa if they fulfill the requirements.
The downside is that if you do not fulfill the requirements, then the initial validity of the visa is for 3 years. After 3 years, the employer can petition for an extension of another 3 years. The maximum time you can stay in the U.S with an H-1B visa is 6 years.
The H-1B visa authority is the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They are responsible for the decision on whether to approve an H-1B petition from a U.S employer. The U.S employer submits Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker to USCIS. If approved, the foreign employee then must apply for the H-1B visa at a U.S Embassy or Consulate in their own country.
The employee submits Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application and pays the necessary fees. They also submit the supporting documents, including their passport and proof of qualifications. Finally, the U.S Embassy officials schedule a visa interview.
What is the H-1B Visa Interview?
The visa interview is extremely important. This is the final part before they issue the visa. The applicant must convince the official asking the questions that they are fit to get the H-1B visa.
The Embassy will schedule the interview at an appropriate time. You as the applicant must make sure to attend it at that time. If you must reschedule, you have to inform the Embassy beforehand. The Embassy will reschedule, but this will increase the processing time of your visa. Sometimes the Embassy is so busy that they will reschedule the interview after a few weeks. So it is best to attend when they initially schedule it.
You must not miss the interview under any circumstances. If you miss it, it will send a message to the officials that you are not serious about getting the visa. This will decrease your chances of getting it and going to the U.S and working.
It is recommended that you try to research potential questions before the interview. You must be prepared to answer anything the official might potentially ask. That is why we have made a list of commonly asked H-1B visa interview questions.
What Are the Most Commonly Asked Questions for the H-1B Visa?
When you go to the visa interview, you will have to pass through the Embassy security first. Then depending on the country, you will either meet an Embassy official in a room or you will be behind their desk in a shared office.
The U.S Embassy official will first ask you to hand in copies of your supporting documents. This includes your approved Form I-129 petition and your other qualifications. You must make sure that you have the file with you so you do not seem unprepared.
Then the official will start asking questions. The sections of the questions they will ask are in these parts:
- General questions;
- Qualification questions;
- H-1B company background questions.
Whichever questions they start with first, you must answer correctly and truthfully. If you give incorrect information, the official will know and they will deny your visa.
The general questions will be more introductory questions rather than detailed ones. The official will try to get a sense of whether you know why you are going to the U.S and how long you plan to stay. They want to know whether you know anyone in the U.S or whether your family will join you.
The most important part in this section of questions will be to determine your intent to return to your home country. You must convince the Embassy official that you intend to return. You must provide concrete answers and documents such as a property deed, lease agreement, or loan documents.
Some of the general questions could be as follows:
- Could you please give me your passport and passport number?
- Have you ever traveled outside of your home country before?
- Have you ever been to the U.S before?
- Why do you want to go to the U.S?
- Why do you want to work in the U.S?
- What will you work in the U.S?
- Which U.S state are you going to?
- Do you have family or friends in the U.S?
- Have you ever studied in the U.S?
- Are you married? If yes, then how long?
- Will your spouse/children be joining you in the U.S?
- What citizenships do you hold?
- Have you ever immigrated to another country before?
- Do you plan on returning to your home country after your work in the U.S ends? If yes, then why?
- Could you please provide me with your approved Form I-129?
The qualification questions are about your education and previous work experience. Since the H-1B visa is for people in specialty occupations, you must prove you have extensive skills. You can do so by explaining what your education was about, where you completed it, and whether you have certifications.
You must also show you are capable of doing the job you are hired for through previous work experience. They will ask you to explain your job, duties, and why you left. If you have had Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the U.S before, the official will also ask you about your experience.
Some common questions could be:
- Could you please provide me with your diplomas and certifications?
- What is the highest degree that you have?
- What was your major?
- Where did you complete your education?
- When did you graduate?
- Did you do any internship during your studies?
- Did you do any research projects during your studies?
- What was the topic of your thesis?
- Do you have any additional certifications?
- What do you consider to be your skills?
- Do you plan to continue your education or get a certification?
- What was the last job you worked in?
- What were your duties there?
- Which company did you work for?
- How long was this experience?
- What was your salary?
- Why did you stop working for that company?
- How does your previous experience relate to what you will do in the U.S?
- Could you please give us your recommendation letters or letters from your previous employers?
H-1B Company Background Questions
The final section of the interview will be on the company background. You must show enough knowledge about the company you will work for in the U.S.
The U.S Embassy official will want to know that the company actually exists and is legitimate. They want to make sure you are not getting a fake job from someone in the U.S and that you are not trying to make up a fake company just to leave your home country.
You will have to provide a thorough description of the company and your duties there. You must know the names of the company leaders and your supervisor. You must also have pictures of the company, its financial statements, and tax filings.
Some common questions could be:
- Which company will you work for in the U.S?
- What will be your position?
- Please provide a description of your job?
- What will be your salary?
- How did you find out about this company?
- How did you apply for the job?
- How long did it take you to get this job?
- How many rounds of interviews and tests did you have?
- What does this company do?
- Who is the President of the company?
- Who will be your supervisor?
- Does this company sponsor other H-1B visa employees? If so, how many?
- Do you have any pictures of what the company looks like? If so, could you please show us?
- How will you pay for your expenses until you get your salary?
- Could you please show us the company’s financial information?
- Could you please show us the company’s tax documents?
The questions are in sections, but that does not mean that all interviewers will follow the order. Most likely, the Embassy official will ask them as the topic comes up and not follow a specific section. Because of that prepare yourself to answer any question in whatever order they ask you.
How Long is the H-1B Visa Interview?
There is no definite answer about how long the H-1B visa interview is. There are cases when the interview can last for an hour. But there are also cases when the official will only ask 3 or 4 questions. However, you should prepare for an interview of around 30 minutes long.
When Will I Get the H-1B Visa After the Interview?
Most H-1B visa decisions are made immediately after the visa interview. The interviewer decides to give you the visa and they will stamp your passport right there. You will get the passport and then you can start making travel arrangements.
There are cases when the interviewer needs more time to make a decision. They might want to review the documents more or talk to their supervisors about how your interview went. This process will generally not last more than 1 week.
When the Embassy makes a decision, they will stamp your passport and mail it back to you.