The H-1B visa allows a foreign national with a minimum of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent to work in the United States in a specialty occupation. If an individual does not possess a bachelor's degree, it may be possible to qualify based on a combination of progressive work experience, training and education. For example, if an individual has six years of work experience and has completed two years of college related to the field for which the visa is sought, he or she may qualify for H-1B visa based on the combination of education and experience. Generally, USCIS will equate three years of work experience (in the field H-1B position is sought) as the equivalent of one year of college.
One benefit of the H-1B visa is that it offers a path to permanent residency (Green card). There is an annual cap for H-1B visas. There is also a separate cap for U.S. Masters degree holders. Individuals who are currently in H-1B status and seeking to transfer to a new employer are not subject to this cap.
Spouse and unmarried children under age 21 are allowed to join or accompany the H-1B visa holder on H-4 visa status.
H-1B Quick Facts
- Occupations which qualify for H-1B visa are "specialty occupation" positions. Some examples of specialty occupation positions include accountants, architects, chemists, computer programmers, doctors, financial analysts, lawyers, marketing managers, pharmacists, researchers, scientists, software engineers and other informational technology professionals.
- An existing job offer with a U.S. employer that is willing to sponsor a beneficiary.
- The proposed position must qualify as a "specialty occupation".
- Employees may travel in and out of the U.S without restrictions on a valid work visa.
- The H-1B is valid for a period of 3 years. The period of stay may be extended for a total maximum of 6 years. The period of stay may be extended beyond 6 years if the beneficiary has a labor certification pending for 365 days or an approved I-140 immigrant petition.
- Employees in H-1B are eligible to apply for permanent resident status if a company is willing to sponsor the petition.
- Spouses and children under age 21 are eligible for H-4 visa status but are not allowed to work. H-4 visa holders may attend schools and colleges.
H-1B Visa Process
- On behalf of the employer, our firm prepares and files an H-1B petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition includes a Labor Condition Application (LCA) in which the employer attests that it is hiring the employee for a specialty occupation, and that it will pay the prevailing wage and provide the same working conditions as those provided for an U.S. worker.
Note: The visa petition may be expedited by paying a premium processing fee of $1000.00 to USCIS.
- Upon approval of the petition, the employer receives notice of action from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and notifies the employee of the same.
- If the employee is outside the U.S., he/she takes the approval notice along with the relevant documents and applies for the H-1B visa at the US Consulate in his or her country of origin.
- If the employee is currently in the United States in another immigration status, he or she may change to H-1B status.