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'The quota of H1-B visas may increase next year'
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July 19, 2007

Bill Gates recently lambasted the United States Congress for the severe shortage of H-1B visas available to talented foreign workers.

Under the current system, earning an H-1B visa is next to impossible. You need a phenomenal skill-set just to be considered. To actually earn one, you also need amazing luck.

Given this shortage, how can you put yourself in the best position to earn one?

And is it true that the United States is considering increasing the quota of visas? If so, when will they be available?

In a chat with Get Ahead readers on July 12, visa expert Dr Arun Vakil answered all these queries and more.

For those of you who missed it, here's Part I of the chat transcript.

 Dr Arun Vakil says, Greetings to all who are eligible for and seek temporary employment in America. Out of an annual quota of 65,000 visas available under this category, 6,800 are allotted to Singapore and Chile as per an agreement with the US. This means that realistically speaking, 58,200 H-1Bs are available to the rest of the world and nearly half of these are granted to Indian IT professionals -- they fall under the 'Specialty Occupations' category as defined by US law.

Nevin asked, I am an Internet Marketing Specialist and I want to work in the US for some big company. What is the way to get a visa? I have work ex of 4 years

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
You need to find an American employer willing to hire you -- you can do so by visiting relevant websites and private placement bureaus (do not bank on unknown consultants). If you are offered a job, the employer files for an H-1B visa on your behalf. In your case, if you qualify you will get a visa effective October 1 2008, as the quota for the current year is over.

russel asked, I have a valid L1. Can i do a L1 to H1 transfer? If yes then how much time does it take

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Transfer is possible. The time taken depends on the service centre demand-supply situation.

dpkl asked, Hi Mr. Arun My H1-b has been Approved for 2007 .When i Put my Case ID ..the Status says that Approval Notice sent.I am just waiting for the Documents from my Consultant,so that i can book a datw at the mumbai Consulate.They say as soon as we receive the documents from the USCIS we will be sending the same to you.They are saying the time taken would be 15 to 90 days.According to you in how much time will/should i be getting the documents. And when does the Interview period start at the Mumbai US Counsalate.?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
There is no specific interview period in Mumbai. You can apply a minimum of 10 days prior to your H-1B start date. However, from what you say, your consultant's dealings don't sound very normal.

avgc asked, Is there any chance to increase the number of H1-B visas from 65k to 115k?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Talks are on regarding the same -- it could happen in late 2008 or 2009.

Vipin asked, I had an H1B option once, but passed up opprotunity. Now I have a nother shot, will it be proble? 

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
There is no problem. You have to explain the details of your case and the visa officer will take the call accordingly.

aret asked, Hi Can the transfer of H1 visa happen in India itself

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Normally not. Only under extreme circumstances. 

sirinivas asked, My brother has been in USA since 1999 onwards under H1 B he wants to stay there even after 6yrs can he have the H1B stamped in USA without coming to India or should he speed up the Green card were there is a BIG Q pls advice whether he can remain in usa with afresh H1B without coming to India is it possible srinivas

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
When six years are completed, the candidate has to leave the US for one year and return thereafter with a fresh H-1B. He can try for a Green Card before the completion of six years.

Pras asked, I am thiry nine years of age. Is this too old?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, No. Age is not the criteria. Your background and experience will be evaluated by a prospective employer and a decision then taken.

Aditya asked, I had H1B now company has bankrupted. I have new opportunity at other company but can I change this job?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
You can, provided another employer files for a new H-1B for you and it gets approved.

amanjeet asked, Sir, I,am B.E.(Electronics) and have more than 6 years of IT experience. I've applied for H1-B for this year and my application has also been approved but due to the constant decline of dollars against Rupees and booming of IT jobs in India i,m now in a Dilemma for whether should i go for it or should stay in India ? So what you suggest ?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
This is an individual situation -- go with the chance that you have already been provided.

rere asked, HI vakil, as a H1B employee with family(Wife+ kid)..How much we can save per month in US???

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Depends on your salary, your spending habits and the cost of living, including where you reside.

somaskhar asked, Dear Sir I want to work in us.Basically I am a chemist but recently switched to s/w. Are there any opportunities for s/w testers? How can I get a H1B sponsored?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
Go to these websites and register your resume. is an Indian website and and are American websites where you can submit your resume and get a response from prospective employers.

Albert asked, This albert from Goa [Images]. I met US consultnat who promised me H1B Visa but want money advanced. Bad idea?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, Avoid consultants who ask for large sums of money. Unless you are convinced of the consultant's genuine stand, don't fall into any such trap.

Nikhil asked, PLEASE REVIEW H1B stauts. I want one this year. Please exlain all.

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
H-1B status requires a sponsoring US employer. The employer must file a labour condition application (LCA) with the Department of Labour, attesting to several items including payment of prevailing wages for the position and the working conditions offered.

The employer must then file a Form I-129 petition, plus an accompanying fee of $190 (which will increase to $320 from July 30, 2007) with the USCIS and unless specifically exempt under law, an additional $2000 fee to sponsor the H-1B worker. Under the current law, an alien can avail of H1-B status for a maximum period of six years at a time. After that time, an alien must remain outside the US for one year before another H-1B petition is approved.

Certain aliens working on Defense Department projects may avail of H-1B status for 10 years. If you want fast track or premium processing of an H-1B in the US, you may pay $1,000 more to get it processed in 15 days in America. The fee payable at the US Consulate/Embassy is Rs 4200 plus Rs 322 service charge as detailed on

KC asked, What is maximum approvla? I have a brother in US, will this affect my status? I have two different names, KC and Kanchana. Is this proble?

Dr Arun Vakil answers, 
1. Validity of approval could be 3 years maximum, if the job offer is valid, but I would prefer getting it stamped for safety. 2. Having a brother there will not cause a problem for you; as for your name, you can have an affidavit drawn out that both names belong to the same person.

Part II: Tomorrow

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