Dear Mentor:

How do I invoke an old H1B visa?

I am a Civil Engineer (A.M.I.E.) and I have 3 years experience in software. I got the H1B visa papers and I attended at Madras consulate one and half year back and it was in query regarding educational qualifications. Give proper suggestion to invoke it.

Invoking H1B Petition, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

Dear Invoking H1B Petition:

Frankly we do not quite understand your inquiry. We shall try our best to offer a useful reply. We strongly encourage you and others who write to us, to take the time to write your inquiry clearly, so that we can offer you relevant information and advice without making assumptions that may or may not be valid.

The H1B visa for the US is a temporary worker visa. The candidate must be sponsored by an employer in the US for a specific position in the company. The candidate must have at least a US-equivalent Bachelor's degree. The employer submits a petition for the H1B visa to the US INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service) on behalf of the candidate.

Upon approval of the H1B visa petition, the candidate is required to appear for an interview at a US Consulate or Embassy in the home country. The immigration officials, during this process, expect to receive certain documents such as birth certificate, degree(s), and so on. The objective for the immigration officials at this stage in the process is to ascertain that the candidate: intends to enter the US on a temporary basis, has requisite qualification, and has a "clean" background. Upon a successful completion, the H1B visa documents are issued. The last hurdle is at the port of entry where the candidate is questioned again to make sure that the story and the background check hold up.

We have outlined above the general H1B process. The situation may vary depending on the details of individual cases. The point to note is that the H1B is for a specific position with a particular employer; it is not a work visa to enter the country to look for a job or take up any job.

As you can see, you can not simply "invoke" the H1B petition when you wish. We are assuming that you had an approved petition for the H1B a year and a half ago. What happened when you visited the US Consulate in Madras? If you were declined a visa, your petition is no longer valid. Is the position, offered to you at least a year and half ago, still available for you? If not, your approved petition is no longer valid. Typically, an approved petition contains a date by which you must join the new job position. The approval for the H1B visa petition is not valid forever. Is the deadline passed? If yes, your petition is no longer valid.

You can not apply for the H1B visa on your own. You must have either the last employer apply for amendments to the previous H1B petition to the INS, or you must find a new employer who can not only offer you a job but is also willing to sponsor you for the H1B visa.

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