Thursday, December 20, 2012

Submit Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application DS-160

 

This post is a part of series of posts that makes up “The Complete Process Trail for H-1B Work Visa”.

Once you’ve received your H-1B Package from your Sponsor, you can now go ahead and submit the Online Non-immigration Visa Application DS-160. The DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form, is for temporary travel to the United States. Form DS-160 is submitted electronically to the Department of State website via the Internet. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

Go to Consular Electronic Application Center website. This website is hosted by US State Department and they recommend that you use Internet Explorer or Firefox browser to access the DS-160.

Before you start filling the DS-160, make sure you have following documents with you:

  • Photo (digital or soft copy). Please refer to the Photograph Requirements for detailed guidance.
  • Passport
  • Travel itinerary, if you have already made travel arrangements.
  • Dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States, if you have previously travelled to the United States. You may also be asked for your international travel history for the past five years.
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae - You may be required to provide information about your current and previous education and work history.
  • Other Information - Some applicants, depending on the intended purpose of travel, will be asked to provide additional information when completing the DS-160.

Do note that, you can save your application or return to a partially completed application. When you begin a new DS-160, you will be issued a unique application identification (ID) number after selecting and answering a security question. Write down the Application ID displayed on the top right-hand corner of the page. If you need to close the browser before submitting your application, you will need this Application ID to continue your application.

IMPORTANT – You have to fill separate DS-160 for every family member going with you to USA. Once you finish your DS-160, on the “Thank You” page you will see an option to create a family or group application. When you select this option, certain information from your application, such as destination, will automatically be imported to and displayed on a new application.

After you have completed the DS-160, you must take these next steps below:

  • Print and keep the DS-160 confirmation barcode page. (You do not need to print the full application.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Sponsor will send the H-1B Package Documents to the Candidate

 

This post is a part of series of posts that makes up “The Complete Process Trail for H-1B Work Visa”.

Once your H-1B petition I-129 is approved and your Sponsor received the I-797B Approval Notice from USCIS, your sponsor will courier you, that original I-797B along with a copy of your petition which includes all documents submitted to USCIS for case approval.

The H-1B Package you will receive from your Sponsor via courier include following documents:

  1. Original I-797B Approval Notice as show here
  2. Copy of your H-1B Petition I-129
  3. Copy of all documents which your sponsor submit along with your H-1B Petition I-129 to USCIS
    1. Copy of your Resume / CV
    2. Copy of your Degrees / Transcripts / Certificates
    3. Copy of your Passport
    4. Copy of your Education Evaluation Letter
    5. Copy of your Offer Letter with complete Job Description
    6. Copy of an official letter from Sponsor describing why you are a best fit for the job
    7. Copy of your US Itinerary
    8. Copy of any other supported documents that Sponsor has submitted to USCIS

How courier will deliver your package?

The delivery mechanism for such a package is little different from normal courier deliveries. Once the local city office receives your package, they will call you on your mobile/cell phone and confirm with you if you are expecting a package delivery from USA. Once you confirm them, they will send the rider to your location and the rider will deliver the package and get your signatures at the time of delivery.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

H-1B Petition I-129 Processing Time and Trends

 

This post is a part of series of posts that makes up “The Complete Process Trail for H-1B Work Visa”.

Current Trends – As of today i.e. 16th December 2012.

Following chart depicts the current I-129 Processing Time of USCIS National Average and Vermont Service Center. So, based on current trend, if your petition will be filed at Vermont Service Center, a decision might be taken in 2.1 months from the actual date of filing. A decision could be , Rejection or an .

processing-time-vermont

Following chart shows the I-129 Processing Volume Trend of Vermont Service Center.

i-129 vermont

Following chart shows National Trend for I-129 Processing Volume

i-129 national

Source – USCIS

How to view most current Processing Time, Volumes and Trends?

  1. Go to https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard.do
  2. From the second table at the bottom titled “Processing Times”:
    1. Select a form type – select “I-129” and click “Next” button (page will refresh)
    2. Select a form sub-type – select “H-1B – Specialty Occupation – Visa to be issued abroad” and click “Next” button (page will refresh)
    3. Select an office – select any office you wish to view and click “Next” button (page will refresh)
    4. Current Processing Time will be shown in the form of chart (similar to the chart shown above – the very first image above)
  3. On the same page and just beneath the second table, there is a link “View national volumes and trends for all applications”. Click on that link and it will take you to a new page titles “National Processing Volumes and Trends”. From that page:
    1. Select a form type – select “I-129”
    2. Select an office – select any office you wish to see
    3. Select chart type – select any chart you wish to see
    4. Click on the button “Get Results”. Page will refresh and you will see two charts similar to the one shown above – last 2 images)

Request for Evidence (RFE) Processing Time

 

USCIS can process your response for RFE in as little as one week, but usually they’ll take 6 to 9 weeks for processing. However, there are examples when they took 12 weeks or more to process the response against an RFE.

Bottom line: No one can predict, how much time USCIS will take to process a response. It is advisable to contact USCIS, if you (read Sponsor) do not receive any response from USCIS in 90 days or 12 weeks of time.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why Request for Evidence (RFE)?–Recent Trends

 

On a mission to eradicate fraud, USCIS is increasingly responding to petitions with burdensome Requests for Evidence (). Over the past years, different trends has been observed, such as:

End Client

The USCIS recently changed the format of their Requests for Evidence () for petitions where the employee is located at a client site. In the past, the focus of these types of s centered around the employer/employee relationship, but now, they have started questioning whether the position at the end-client requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

These s seem to be targeted at IT staffing companies because they include language that says that the record indicates the petitioner “is in the business of locating persons with computer-related backgrounds and placing these individuals in positions with firms that use such personnel to complete their projects.”

The s suggest that in order to overcome USCIS's doubts, employers must provide copies of signed contracts, master agreements, work orders, statements of work, services agreements and letters between the employer and authorized officials of the ultimate end-client companies and that these documents should contain a description of the duties, the requirements for the position, salary, hours worked, benefits and a brief description of who will supervise the employee.

Education

The USCIS has in the past has placed an emphasis on education and has been issuing where they are asking about:

  1. Education evaluation from a reputable evaluation company. Further, if the evaluation requires a combination of education and experience to equate to either a 4 year degree or a degree that is relevant to the position, the USCIS is requiring evidence establishing the evaluator's credentials and qualifications. It is important that Sponsors who sponsor H1B applicants with foreign degrees get their evaluations from credible evaluation companies and that they submit the evidence regarding the evaluator’s credentials and qualifications.
  2. How a person’s degree relates to the position. They are questioning this more frequently so it is important to verify that there is either classwork or experience that an H1B applicant can show in order to prove that their education/experience is relevant to the position that is being filed for on their behalf.

Right to Control

The USCIS continues to question an employer’s ability to control their employee when that employee is located off-site. Further, they question the employer’s employer/employee relationship and how the employer intends to maintain this while the employee is working at a client site.

These doubts have been raised since the Neufeld memo was published in 2010. An end-client letter which states that the project/assignment will last for 3 years resolves this issue, but in most cases, end-clients are hesitant to issue these types of letters as they feel that it can be construed as a contractual commitment to that consultant and their employer.

Other Notable Observations

  • Although additional scrutiny has affected companies of all types and sizes, those that design and/or produce products are not nearly as hard hit as companies that provide IT services.
  • USCIS is increasingly tallying and tracking cases filed by each company. Companies that file a disproportionately high number of petitions relative to its overall headcount often face more burdensome s.

Responding Request for Evidence (RFE)

 

Your sponsor is the one who will receive the from USCIS, prepare the Response and finally submit it for review to USCIS. In case, your Sponsor need any additional document or clarification, they will contact you. So, all you have to do is to make yourself easily accessible during that time either through email, phone, fax or mail.

The USCIS will require a response from the Sponsor within 30 to 90 days depending upon the case. Once your Sponsor submit the response to USCIS, your status will change from “Request for Evidence” to “Request for Evidence Response Review” and if you have subscribed for status change notifications via email (as shown in my earlier post), you will also receive an email similar to the one below from USCIS:

*** DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS E-MAIL ***

The last processing action taken on your case

Receipt Number: EAC11209xxxxx
Application Type: I129 , PETITION FOR A NONIMMIGRANT WORKER
Your Case Status: Request for Evidence Response Review

On February 13, 2012, we received your response to our request for evidence. This case is being processed at our VERMONT SERVICE CENTER location. If you move while this case is pending, please use our Change of Address online tool to update your case with your new address or call our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283. We will notify you by mail when we make a decision or if we need something from you. You should expect to receive a written decision or written update within 60 days of the date we received your response unless fingerprint processing or an interview are standard parts of case processing and have not yet been completed, in which case you can use the processing time information on our website to estimate when this case will be done. If you move while this case is pending, please use our Change of Address online tool to update your case with your new address or call our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.

Once a timely response to the request for evidence is received by USCIS, we review the evidence or information you submitted. If you submitted the requested evidence, we continue with the adjudication of your application or petition in light of the new evidence.

If you have questions or concerns about your application or the case status results
listed above, or if you have not received a decision from USCIS within the current
processing time listed*, please contact USCIS Customer Service at (800) 375-5283.

*Current processing times can be found on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov under Check Processing Times.

*** Please do not respond to this e-mail message.

Sincerely,

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

What is Request for Evidence RFE?

 

A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a common tool used by the USCIS (Immigration services) to ask for additional proof in order to make a decision on your case. For example:

USCIS sends RFE H1B when

  • More information about H1B applications submitted.
  • Documents provided is not sufficient
  • If some documents or missing
  • educational evaluation
  • documents supporting the exceptional abilities
  • And few more..

RFEs are often in point form requesting factual information from either the beneficiary or petitioner. USCIS will send RFE to the Sponsor and if you have registered on USCIS website for status changes as discussed on my previous post, you will also receive an email on this state change. A typical “Status Change RFE” email from USCIS to you will be- like:

*** DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS E-MAIL ***

The last processing action taken on your case

Receipt Number: EAC11209xxxxx
Application Type: I129 , PETITION FOR A NONIMMIGRANT WORKER
Your Case Status: Request for Evidence

On November 17, 2011, we mailed a notice requesting additional evidence or information in this case I129 PETITION FOR A NONIMMIGRANT WORKER. Please follow the instructions on the notice to submit the requested information. This case will be in suspense until we receive the evidence or the opportunity to submit it expires. Once we receive the requested evidence or information and make a decision on the case, you will be notified by mail. If you move while this case is pending, please use our Change of Address online tool to update your case with your new address or call our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.

A request for evidence is made when an application/petition is lacking required documentation/evidence (initial evidence) or the officer needs more documentation/evidence (additional evidence) to determine an applicant's eligibility for the benefit sought. We may send you a request for evidence at any stage of our review. The request will indicate what evidence or information is needed for us to fully evaluate your application or petition. The notice will explain where to send the evidence and will give the deadline for your response. Your application or petition will be held in suspense during that time. If you receive a request for evidence and have questions about what you need to submit, you may call our National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

If you have questions or concerns about your application or the case status results
listed above, or if you have not received a decision from USCIS within the current
processing time listed*, please contact USCIS Customer Service at (800) 375-5283.

*Current processing times can be found on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov under Check Processing Times.

*** Please do not respond to this e-mail message.

Sincerely,

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is H-1B Petition I-129’s Approval Notice I-797B and How it Looks Like?

 

Please click here to read about variants of I-797 including I-797B.

The USCIS Approval Notice I-797B, is really a receipt that USCIS has received your application and contains information like:

  • The applicant's (Petitioner) individual information.
  • The Beneficiary's information (if any).
  • Name with the petition.
  • Receipt Number, using this number you can verify the status of your application.
  • Receipt Date, the date your application was received by USCIS.
  • Priority Date, is your location inside the waiting list queue. This date depends upon the preference group you come under as well as the nation of birth. If your priority date may be the current date, it means that a visa is immediately offered.
  • Notice Date.
  • Type of notice, whether or not it is USCIS Approval or receipt.
  • Class, what category you belong.
  • Validity of one's petition. This states how lengthy your petition is legitimate. The consular authorities have the right to extend your validity interval.

2012-12-13_21-14-41_745 (977x1280)

2012-12-13_21-15-41_325 (1017x1280) 2012-12-13_21-15-09_907 (998x1280)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

USCIS will send Approval Notice I-797B to Sponsor

 

This post is a part of series of posts that makes up “The Complete Process Trail for H-1B Work Visa”.

Once H-1B petition I-129 was approved by USCIS, an Approval Notice I-797B will be sent to the employer. Notice that I-797 has different variants, however only the ones that are highlighted below are relevant in our case.

USCIS uses numerous types of Form I-797 to communicate with customers or convey an immigration benefit. Form I-797 is NOT a form you can fill out. The chart below gives a brief description of each:

I-797, Notice of Action - Issued when an application or petition is approved.

I-797A, Notice of Action - Issued to an applicant as a replacement Form I-94.

I-797B, Notice of Action - Issued for approval of an alien worker petition.

I-797C, Notice of Action - Issued to communicate receipt of payments, rejection of applications, transfer of files, fingerprint biometric, interview and re-scheduled appointments, and re-open cases.

I-797D - Accompanies benefit cards.

I-797E, Notice of Action - Issued to request evidence.

I-797F, Transportation Letter - Issued overseas to allow applicants to travel.

Source: USCIS

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How to check your H-1B Case Status?

 

In order to check your H-1B Case Status, please go to USCIS website http://www.uscis.gov

case

On the top left side of the page, you can see “Case Status” box as highlighted with red color above. Enter you H-1B Petition I-129 Receipt Number, with out any dashes “-“, as mentioned above. Click on “Check Status” button. You will redirected to the result page which shows all statuses (as circles) in chronological order, where one of them will be highlighted showing your case’s current status.

result

You can also sign up via email using the third option “Sign-up for Case Updates” on the top left hand side menu box above. If there’s any change in the status of your case, you will be emailed about the change.

13 Digit Alpha-Numeric, H-1B Petition I-129 Receipt / Case / Reference Number

 

Format: {FIRST PART}-{SECOND PART}-{THIRD PART}-{FOURTH PART}

Example: EAC-12-209-52348

  • FIRST PART
    • Indicates the USCIS Service Center where H-1B petition was filed
      • EAC – Vermont Service Center (old name: Eastern Adjudication Center).
      • LIN – Nebraska Service Center (LIN refers to Lincoln, Nebraska).
      • SRC – Texas Service Center (old name: Southern Regional Center).
      • WAC – California Service Center (old name: Western Adjudication Center).
  • SECOND PART
    • Last two digits of the Year in which H-1B petition was filed.
  • THIRD PART
    • Working Day (i.e. excluding weekend & holidays) starting from October 1st of the year of filing
  • FOURTH PART
    • Indicates the Case Number that was assigned to your H-1B petition.

Monday, December 10, 2012

H-1B Petition I-129 filing by Sponsor

 

This post is a part of series of posts that makes up “The Complete Process Trail for H-1B Work Visa”.

Based on the documents that you have sent to the Sponsor and the accepted Offer Letter, Sponsor will prepare the H-1B Petition I-129 and submit it to any one of the following Service Centers of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) based on the applicable jurisdiction.

Source: USCIS

Your sponsor can submit your H-1B Petition I-129 in either of the following processing modes:

  1. Regular Processing
    • Processing Time – up till 6 months
    • Base filing fee – US$ 325
      • American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) fee
        • US$ 750 for employers with 1 to 25 full-time equivalent employees, unless exempt
        • US$ 1,500 for employers with 26 or more full-time equivalent employees, unless exempt
      • Fraud Prevention and Detection fee
        • US$ 500 to be submitted with a request for initial H-1B status or with a request for a beneficiary already in H-1B status to change employers (does not apply to Chile/Singapore H-1B1 petitions)
      • Public Law 111-230
          • US$ 2,000 to be submitted by a petitioner which employs 50 or more employees in the United States where more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States are in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status.
          • must be submitted with a request for initial H-1B status or a request for a beneficiary already in H-1B status to change employers
    • Turn around time – Within 6 months
  2. Premium Processing
    • Processing Time – Within 2 weeks
    • All fees mentioned in “Regular Processing” above
    • Additional fee of US$ 1,225 for employers seeking Premium Processing Service

Source: USCIS

So does Premium Processing has Higher chances of Approval? the answer is No. Its just a way to expedite the processing of your application. Premium processing will not increase your chances of approval. And, if you are applying for H-1B for the first time, there’s no need to go for Premium Processing, because even if you know early, that your H-1B Petition I-129 has been approved, you can not enter USA before 1st of October the same year.

Then why should one go for Premium Processing? there are cases when opting for Premium Processing is beneficial:

  1. H-1B Transfers – because candidate can work right away and do not have to wait for 1st October. Moreover, candidate want to switch early instead of being stuck with existing sponsor for long
  2. H-1B Addendum – because candidate can work right away and do not have to wait for 1st of October
  3. etc.

Once the H-1B Petition I-129 is submitted by the Sponsor, the USCIS Service Center will send a Receipt Notice bearing a 13 digit alphanumeric reference number.This is the petitioner’s (sponsor’s) first confirmation that the petition is in the adjudicating queue.

You will now have to wait for the approval of your petition by USCIS. During that period you can check about your case status from time to time on USCIS website.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

H-1B Work Visa Sponsor to file Labor Condition Application (LCA) with Department of Labor (DOL)

 

This post is a part of series of posts that makes up “The Complete Process Trail for H-1B Work Visa”.

Prospective specialty occupation and distinguished fashion model employers must obtain a certification of an LCA from the DOL. This application includes certain attestations, a violation of which can result in fines, bars on sponsoring nonimmigrant or immigrant petitions, and other sanctions to the employer. The application requires the employer to attest that it will comply with the following labor requirements:

  • The employer will pay the beneficiary a wage which is no less than the wage paid to similarly qualified workers or, if greater, the prevailing wage for your position in the geographic area in which you will be working.
  • The employer will provide working conditions that will not adversely affect other similarly employed workers. At the time of the labor condition application there is no strike or lockout at the employer place of business. Notice of the filing of the labor condition application with the DOL has been given to the union bargaining representative or has been posted at the place of business.

Source: USCIS

A single Labor Condition Application for H1B may be filed for multiple positions. Each LCA is limited to one occupation with specified job duties.

The LCA must be certified by the DOL and submitted with the Form I-129 before the H1B petition may be approved by USCIS.

Labor condition applications are filed online using the iCERT system

An application which is complete and has no obvious inaccuracies will be certified by the Department and returned to the employer, who may then file it in support of its petition for an H1B visa nonimmigrant with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service USCIS (USCIS).

Current LCA processing time is 7 days.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

List of Document required by H-1B Work Visa Sponsor

 

This post is a part of series of posts that makes up “The Complete Process Trail for H-1B Work Visa”.

Once you have accepted the Offer Letter from H-1B Work Visa Sponsor. You will be required to submit following information and scanned copies of documents for the processing:

Information Required

  1. First Name
  2. Middle Name
  3. Last Name
  4. Any other Names used
  5. Email Address
  6. Contact Number(s)
  7. Date of Birth
  8. Country of Birth
  9. Province of Birth
  10. Country of Citizenship
  11. Passport #
  12. Date Issued
  13. Date of Expiry (MUST BE VALID FOR A MIN. OF 6 MONTHS TO 1 YEAR)
  14. Consulate/Embassy (City) in your Country
  15. Country
  16. Ever been on H-1B visa before?
    1. If yes then provide all dates of previous stay in From Date / To Date format
  17. Social Security Number / SSN (if any)
  18. Highest Level of Education Completed
  19. Total Years of Experience in IT industry
  20. Additional info for those who are already in USA
    1. Date of Last Arrival
    2. I-94#
    3. Port of Entry
    4. Current US Address
    5. Current Status
    6. Previous Receipt / Case Number

List of Documents

  1. Scanned Color Copies of:
    1. Passport (Biographic Pages)
    2. Resume
    3. All Diplomas / Certificates
    4. Degrees and Transcripts (with Translation into English, if required)
    5. Previous Work Experience / Job Reference Letters
    6. Additional documents for those who are already in USA
      1. Scanned Color Copies of:
        1. I-94 with visible stamped date of entry
        2. Previous Approval Notice(s)
        3. Recent Pay Stubs

IMPORTANT – Please make sure you have Machine Readable Passport which must be valid for a min of one year.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Receiving and Accepting the Offer from H-1B Work Visa Sponsor

 

This post is a part of series of posts that makes up “The Complete Process Trail for H-1B Work Visa”.

Once you clear the technical interview and are shortlisted by the H-1B Work Visa Sponsor, your second and last interview will be scheduled with the HR/Management. This interview serves a mean to interact with the management/HR of the company and sort of an introductory knowledge session about what company is all about, their vision, mission , future roadmaps etc.. It is very rare that a candidate who qualifies the technical interview, got rejected because of the evaluation results from his management/HR interview.

Next, the Sponsor will extend an offer to you verbally, which details your role, job description, salary, benefits, etc.. If you agree or after final negotiations, they will send you an Official Offer Letter on company’s letter head, which will be a proof of employment for you throughout your H-1B Work Visa processing.

Make sue you discuss and have a clear understanding on all of the following before accepting the offer:

  1. Contract Type – Consultant or Employment
  2. Sponsor’s % and your % in case of Consultant Contract OR per month Salary in case of Employment Contract
  3. General idea of rates/salaries in prevailing market
  4. General idea of Tax Deductions & your Take Home Salary

Thursday, December 6, 2012

H-1B Work Visa Sponsors and their Selection Process / Criteria

 

This post is First of a series of posts that makes up “The Complete Process Trail for H-1B Work Visa”.

How to find H-1B Work Visa Sponsors?

So how you will find an H-1B Sponsor who sponsor candidates with similar expertise and skill sets as yours? There are different ways in which H-1B Sponsors float sponsorship opportunities in the market.

  1. Join Local Office for some duration  – Some sponsors publish their local job vacancies with H-1B sponsorship as an “added” advantage. So once you are selected, you will have to join their local office for a year or more (depending upon your specific case) and thereafter they’ll process your H-1B. Also, some sponsors tie the processing of H-1B sponsorship with your performance in their local office, so it is not necessary that once you joined their local office, you are also selected for the sponsorship as well.

    So, in order to find such sponsors, refer to my post “Companies who Sponsor H-1B Work Visa for USA in Pakistan” and follow Job Opportunities from these companies on:

    Rozee.pk
    pak-jobs-IT
    Company’s own website
  2. Trusted References Only – Some sponsors do not float their ads directly in the local market, they work through their existing established local trusted references. So, in this case, you have to leverage upon the professional and social circle you are in. In my opinion, I could be wrong, professional networks like LinkedIn.com or Rozee.pk might help in this case. Because your complete professional profile is visible to your contacts and they can see if you are a good fit for the opportunity or not.

Selection and Interview Process

In first case above, the selection process is pretty much the same as with any other selection process for local Job Opportunities. Therefore, I’ll now discuss the second case in detail below.

If an H-1B sponsor is interested in your profile, they will schedule your technical interview. The interview duration will be 30 to 60 minutes in which you will be evaluated in following technical and non-technical areas:

  1. Technology (Java/.Net/C++/etc)
    1. Hashing
    2. Serialization
    3. Collections
    4. Multi Threading / Concurrent Programming
    5. Network Programming
    6. JDBC
    7. Exception Handling
    8. etc.
  2. OOP
  3. Frameworks
    1. IoC (Spring, etc.)
    2. MVC Frameworks (Spring WebMVC, Struts 1/2, etc.)
    3. ORM Frameworks (n/Hibernate, etc)
    4. Web Services (REST, SOAP)
  4. Databases
    1. SQL
      1. Joins
      2. Sub Queries
      3. Views
      4. Stored Procedures / Functions
      5. Triggers
      6. Query Performance & Optimization
    2. Transactions & Locking
    3. Big Data Handling concepts like Sharding and Partitioning
    4. High Availability concepts like Clustering, Replication, etc..
  5. Problem Solving – Scenario based
  6. Communication
    1. Command over English Language
    2. Clarity of Thoughts
    3. Confidence
    4. Attitude
    5. Mental Presence and Attentiveness
    6. Punctuality

Besides above, you can be asked about any thing that you have written in your resume/cv.

As far as interview scheduling is concern, you can either receive an email or a phone call confirming your interview time and date. They will also let you know how your interview will be taken i.e. it could be over:

  1. Skype
  2. Your landline or Mobile phone
  3. Goto Meeting Session
  4. etc.

The interview could be Audio only (most probably) or both Audio and Video. Some important tips for the interview are as follows:

  1. Make sure you are online/ready 5 minutes before your scheduled time. Save yourself from the embarrassment of last minute hiccups.
  2. Make sure you are in a safe and sound place, where you can attend your interview peacefully with out kind of interruptions.
  3. If you are giving interview on Mobile Phone, make sure it is fully charged.
  4. If you are giving interview on Skype or Goto Meeting or any online audio/video service, make sure your Mic/Speakers/WebCam/etc. are all working correctly. Better make test calls to make sure every thing is fine.
  5. Speak naturally with a medium pace (not too fast, not too slow) and slightly louder than normal voice.
  6. Avoid short answers and very long explanations. Be specific with enough details to satisfy the interviewer.
  7. Be prepared for the time when they ask you “if you any questions for us?”, keep a couple or more questions handy for the that time.

You’ll probably be notified within a week about the result of your interview and whether you are shortlisted or not. You will either receive an email (most probably) or a phone call.

In my next post, I will discuss what will happen once you pass the scheduled interview and make it to the shortlisted candidate?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

H-1B Work Visa–Complete Process Trail

 

Below, I’ve summarized complete H-1B Work Visa Process Trail. Later on, I’ll pick each one of them and will walk you through every step in detail, to help you understand the process completely:

  1. Find an H-1B Sponsor and Pass their selection criteria
  2. Receive and Accept the Offer Letter from the Sponsor
  3. Send related documents to the Sponsor
  4. The Sponsor will file Labor Condition Application (LCA) with Department of Labor (DOL)
  5. Once LCA is certified, the Sponsor will file H-1B Petition I-129 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and USCIS will send the I-797 Receipt Notice to the Sponsor.
  6. Once approved USCIS will send an Approval Notice I-797B
  7. The Sponsor will send the I-797 along with other documents to you
  8. Submit H-1B Visa Application DS-160 online on USCIS website.
  9. Submit DS-160, documents and Fee to American Express and get your interview scheduled in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate
  10. Appear for the Visa Interview at US Embassy/Consulate 
    1. Possible Interview Questions That May Be Asked By Visa Officer During H-1B Visa Interview @ US Consulate or Embassy
    2. On the Interview Day - US Embassy/Consulate’s Interview Process for H-1B Visa Applicants
    3. 221(g) Administrative Processing and the Actual Visa Stamping
    4. Check your Visa Application Status Online
    5. Check Current Visa Application Processing or Wait Time
    6. Delay in Visa Stamping – Send Inquiry to US Embassy or Consulate
  11. Once approved, you are eligible to fly to USA

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

H-1B Work Visa–Tax Deductions and Your “Take Home” Salary

 

In my initial post, we establish the expected salary ranges for various skill sets and expertise and in the last post, I discuss the sponsor’s share. Now, the last remaining piece is the Income Tax Deduction. I will discuss this in detail in this post.

Taxes based on income are imposed at the federal, most state, and some local levels within the United States. The Taxable income is gross income less exemptions and deductions; where Gross income includes "all income from whatever source".

2012 Federal Income Tax Rates:

fed

You can notice from the chart above, that a “single” resource will be taxed higher than the married one. On the same principle, if you have children or dependents (like parents, etc.), for each dependent you will be tax-exempted by a certain percentage/amount. The more the number of children or dependents, the higher tax-exemptions and hence lower income tax deductions.

So, if we continue our example of a Java Developer resource from our last post. The net annual salary for that resource will be:

On Employment Contract – US$ 3,500 per month x 12 = US$ 42,000 per year

On Consultant Contract – US$ 4,928 per month x 12 = US$ 59,136 per year

Federal Income Tax on Employment Contract:
25% of US$ 3,500 per month = US$ 875 per month

Federal Tax on Consultant Contract:
25% of US$ 4,928 per month = US$ 1,232 per month

State Income Taxes

43 states and many localities in the United States impose an income tax on individuals. Tax rates vary by state and locality, and may be fixed or graduated.

stat

For our example, we assume that the resource is working in New York State.

ny

The annual salary for the resource is:

On Employment Contract – US$ 3,500 per month x 12 = US$ 42,000 per year

On Consultant Contract – US$ 4,928 per month x 12 = US$ 59,136 per year

Hence,

New York State Income Tax on Employment Contract:
US$ 973 + 6.45% of [ US$ 42,000 per year – US$ 20,000 ] = US$ 2,392 per year or US$ 199.34 per month

New York State Income Tax on Consultant Contract:
US$ 973 + 6.45% of [ US$ 59,136 per year – US$ 20,000 ] = US$ 3,497.27 per year or US$ 291.44 per month

So, the net take home salary will be:

On Employment Contract:
US$ 3,500 per month - US$ 875 per month (Fed. Tax) - US$ 199.34 per month (NYS Tax)
= US$ 2,425.66 per month

On Consultant Contract:
US$ 4,928 per month – US$ 1,232 per month (Fed. Tax) – US$ 291.44 per month (NYS Tax)
= US$ 3,404.56 per month

City/Area/Locality Income Taxes

14 states and the District of Columbia allow cities, counties, and municipalities to levy their own separate individual income taxes in addition to state income taxes. These include:

  • Alabama: Birmingham levies an income tax of 1%
  • Arkansas: Seven Arkansas school districts assess an income tax surcharge equal to 10% of state income tax before tax credits. They are: Berryville, Green Forest, Westside, Hope, Huntsville, Waldron, and Marshall.
  • Colorado: Three cities impose flat taxes on compensation. Aurora charges $2 per month on compensation over $250, Denver charges $5.75 per month on compensation over $500, and Greenwood Village charges $4 per month on compensation over $250.
  • District of Columbia: D.C. has a bracketed income tax system. The rates are 4% for the first $10,000 of income, 6% for $10,000 to $40,000 of income, and 8.5% for income over $40,000.
  • Delaware: Wilmington has a flat 1.25% tax on income.
  • Iowa: 666 school districts impose an income tax surcharge ranging from 1% to 20% of state income tax owed.
  • Indiana: All 92 counties in Indiana have an individual income tax. Tax rates are in the process of being changed, and will be announced on the Indiana Department of Revenue’s website once they are finalized.
  • Kentucky: Eight cities in kentucky levy income taxes on residents and non-residents. They are: Bowling Green (1.85%), Covington (2.5%), Florence (2%), Lexington-Fayette (2.25%), Louisville (2.20% for residents and 1.45% for non-residents), Owensboro (1.33%), Paducah (2%), and Richmond (2%). Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and Louisville - Jefferson County also impose taxes on businesses.
  • Maryland: All 24 Maryland counties levy income taxes on residents and non-residents. Tax rates range from 1.25% to 3.20%. Baltimore also has an income tax of 3.05%.
  • Michigan: Several Michigan cities impose income taxes with rates ranging from 0.50% to 2.50%. Detroit’s income tax rate is 2.50% for residents and 1.25% for non-residents.
  • Missouri: Both Kansas City and St. Louis have an income tax of 1%.
  • New York: Yonkers and New York City both have individual income taxes. New York City's income tax rates range from 2.907% to 3.648%. Yonker's income tax rate is equal to 10% of your net (after credits) state income tax.
  • Ohio: 235 cities and 331 villages in Ohio have an income tax, including Columbus, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. Ohio law requires a flat rate that cannot exceed 1%, unless it is approved by the voters. Ohio local income tax rates range from 0.40% in Indian Hill to 3% in Parma Heights.
  • Oregon: The Tri-Met Transit District (includes Portland) assesses an income tax of 0.6318% and the Lane County Transit District (includes Eugene) assesses an income tax of 0.60%. Multnomah County (Portland) also assesses a 1.45% business income tax.
  • Pennsylvania: Most municipalities in Pennsylvania assess a tax on wages, known as the Earned Income Tax. This tax is usually split between the municipality and the local school district. The local Earned Income Tax is only assessed on earned income, like wages. Unearned income like interest and dividends are not taxed. Pennsylvania state law limits the Earned Income Tax to a maximum flat rate of 2%, but Home Rule cities like Philadelphia and Scranton are not subject to this maximum. Cities with tax rates above 2% include: Philadelphia (3.98%), Pittsburgh (3%), Reading (2.70%), Scranton (3.40%), and Wilkes-Barre (2.85%). Non-residents have to pay the Earned Income Tax as well, but are usually taxed at a lower rate. You can look up local tax rates on Pennsylvania state's website. Local income taxes are also assessed on the net profits of businesses.

Monday, December 3, 2012

H-1B Work Visa–Sponsor’s Share or Profit

 

In my last post, I shared the salary brackets for Employment Contract and Consultant Contract. The feedback, that I received on that post, contains a number of queries and comments on huge difference in compensation between the two models. So, I thought it is in the best interest of all to discuss Sponsor’s Share or Profit in my next post.

This is a known fact that all companies who sponsor H-1B, do it to save or make some money:

  1. Companies need resources for their in-house project/product development and they can get quality resources in a cheaper rate if they have the means and access to human resource markets like Pakistan, India, China, etc..
    [ Benefit – Save Money ] [ Contract Type – Employment ]
  2. Companies also deploy resources to other clients and earn a % share from the salaries of those resources via the Corporate-to-Corporate (corp-to-corp or c2c) model.
    [ Benefit – Make Money ] [ Contract Type – Consultant ]

I will now continue the example from my previous post, to help you understand how sponsor companies make or save money as discussed above.

Based on the salary ranges I mentioned in my previous post, a Java Developer can sign:

  1. An Employment Contract of US$ 3,500 per month, OR
  2. A Consultant Contract of US$ 40 per hour

Let us now calculate the per month salary of this resource for option #2 i.e. Consultant Contract:

As a standard, each resource is required to work 8 hours per day and five weekdays a week from Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday are weekend holidays. If we assume, there are 4 weekends in a month and an average month has 30 days then:

[ 30 (days in month) – 8 (weekend holidays) ] x 8 (hours per day) x 40 ($ per hour) = US$ 7,040 per month

This is more than double of what the resource can get on Employment Contract. So this seems un-fair or imbalance.  Actually it is not, because in case of Employment Contract, the resource is actually employed by the H-1B Sponsor itself, so sponsor already offered the resource a salary that is less than the prevailing market standard. And, this way the sponsor saves the money, because if they hire the same level of resource from the market that would cost them much more.

On the other hand, in Consultant Contract, the sponsor deploys the resource on to one of it’s client companies. The c2c contract between the sponsor and the client will mention US$ 40 per hour, but there will be a contract between the resource and the sponsor which states that a specific % of the resource’s salary will be shared with the sponsor

Based on recent trends:

70% to 80% will be the resource’s share

20% to 30% will be the sponsor’s share

So, if we apply the same to the compensation we calculated above:

US$ 7, 040 x 70 / 100 = US$ 4,928

Now, you can compare this compensation with that of Employment Contract:

Employment Contract – US$ 3,500 per month

Consultant Contract – US$ 4,928 per month

The difference between the two is:

US$ 3,500 per month – US$ 4,928 per month = US$ 1,428

That difference can be justified keeping the amount of risk involved in Consultant Contracts (for detail of risks please refer to my previous post).

I hope my post will help you understand different aspects of the contracts. A heads up for all you, this still is not a complete picture, there are deductions/taxation involved, which I will discuss in detail in my next post.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

H-1B Work Visa–Recent Trends–Salary or Compensation

 

Salary brackets for fresh H-1B Candidates, who do not have any work experience in USA before, are as follows:

Developer (0 – 5 years of experience)
US$ 3,500 – 5,500 per month (Employment Contract)
OR
US$ 40 – 55 per hour (Consultant Contract)

Senior/Lead Developer (6+ years of experience)
US$ 5,500 – 7,000 per month (Employment Contract)
OR
US$ 55 – 80 per hour (Consultant Contract)

Why there’s a difference between Employment and Consultant Contract? please refer to my previous post which discuss the topic in detail.

In order to come up with a realistic estimate of your salary, you should consider following factors:

  1. State & City/Area – Each state has a slightly different salary scale because they differ with others on following:
    1. Taxation Laws – Some tax more while others tax less
    2. Economic Activity – Some are Hub of economic activity while others are not
    3. Cost of Living – Some are cheaper while others are expensive
  2. Client Profile – Whether your Client is a small or medium or large Enterprise OR it’s a fresh Start-up company (low funding or high funding?)
  3. Quality of your Experience – Your foreign experience counts when you have worked for companies that have International presence of at-least presence in USA. On the other hand, if you have worked for companies who are unknown in USA market than you might not be able to leverage upon your experience.
  4. Time of Entry – This is also important as to when you enter the USA job market. Whether it is a hiring season or not. Whether supply is adequate or there’s a high demand.
  5. First Impression – The most important factor, if you were able to market yourself effectively in your interview/test/meeting there’s a bright chance that you can tip the scale in your favor.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

H-1B Work Visa–Contract Types–Pros and Cons

 

There are two frequently used Contract Types that you can have with your H-1B Sponsor, they are:

Employment Contract

Consultant Contract

(Fixed) Per Month (Variable) Per Hour
Include Paid Annual Leaves No Paid Annual Leaves – Number of Hours worked will be paid
Low Risk – Will be paid fully or some fixed % of the salary even if not deployed on a Project or Client High Risk – If No Project or Client then No Salary
Comparatively low rates Comparatively higher rates

In order to understand the compensation difference and risk involved, let us consider two simple cases:

NOTE – I will discuss compensation/salary rates, rate differences, break-up, sponsor-share, taxation, etc. in detail in another post.

Case 1 – Variable # of days in a month – For example consider the month of January (31 days) and February (28 days)

Employment Contract

Consultant Contract

Example – US$ 3,500 per month Example – US$ 30 per hour
Irrespective of how many days a month might have, you will get a fix salary at the end of each month. Easier for monthly budgeting and expense allocation.

You will be impacted by the variance in # of days in a month. So, if you get paid for 23 days in January (8 days of weekend holidays), you will be paid for only 20 days in February.

January Salary = US$ 3,500
February Salary = US$ 3,500

January Salary
23 (days) x 8 (hours per day) x 30 ($ per hour) = US$ 5,520

February Salary
20 (days) x 8 (hours per day) x 30 ($ per hour) = US$ 4,800

Do note that there’s no loss or gain, because net salary for the year will always be the same, no matter if you get less salary in one month and more in another. Because total number of hours for a year will more or less be the same.


Case 2 – Leaves (Sick/Casual/etc.) – For example if you have taken 2 leaves in the month of March and your compensation is the same as mentioned in Case 1 above then:

Employment Contract

Consultant Contract

(Without leaves) March Salary = US$ 3,500

(With leaves) March Salary = US$ 3,500 (provided you have not consumed all your annual leaves)

(Without leaves) March Salary
23 (days) x 8 (hours per day) x 30 ($ per hour) = US$ 5,520

(With leaves) March Salary
[ 23 (days) – 2 (leaves) ] x 8 (hours per day) x 30 ($ per hour) = 5,040

You loose US$ 240 per day if you take a leave (based on compensation mentioned in case 1 above)


Case 3 – Gazette Holidays – For example consider the month of November. There is a Veterans Day holiday on 11th. A Thanksgiving Day holiday on fourth Thursday. A Black Friday holiday following the Thanksgiving Day. In total, there are 3 holidays during the month of November.

Employment Contract

Consultant Contract

(Without holidays) March Salary = US$ 3,500

(With holidays) March Salary = US$ 3,500

(Without holidays) November Salary
22 (days) x 8 (hours per day) x 30 ($ per hour) = US$ 5,280

(With holidays) November Salary
[ 22 (days) – 2 (holidays) ] x 8 (hours per day) x 30 ($ per hour) = 4,800

You loose US$ 240 per holiday (bases on the compensation mentioned in case 1 above)


Case 4 – Bench Period – Time period when you are not deployed on any project or client.

Employment Contract

Consultant Contract

Based on your contract with your employer you will either getting:

1. Full salary

OR

2. Partial/Base salary - a % (usually more than 50%) of your full salary

No salary during bench period