Do you have a bachelor’s degree or higher education and are considering temporary employment in the U.S.? If you are employed in a specialty occupation that requires a bachelor’s degree equivalent such as engineering, math, science, healthcare, business, education, law, or more, you might be eligible for an H-1B visa. Read on to learn more about the H-1B visa program and how to apply!

Overview of the H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant classification that allows for workers in specialty occupations, DOD cooperative research and development workers, and fashion models to enter the United States to work temporarily. The most common type of H-1B employee is the “specialty occupations” category, which refers to an occupation that requires “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge,” and “attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.” Some of the professions that would qualify for an H-1B visa include:

  • Accounting;
  • Nursing;
  • Academia;
  • Law;
  • Engineering;
  • Business;
  • Entrepreneurship; and more.

If you are granted an H-1B visa, you will be allowed to stay for an initial period of 3 years with the ability to extend your stay for up to a total of 6 years.

Eligibility for an H-1B Visa

In order to be eligible for an H-1B visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a valid offer of employment from the employer who is sponsoring you;
  • Demonstrate that your industry requires specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or equivalent;
  • Demonstrate adherence to the educational degree requirements for the employer, position, and industry as a whole;
  • Demonstrate qualifications and an ability to perform services requested by the employer; and
  • Demonstrate that you have Good Moral Character.

The core requirement for a successful H-1B petition is demonstrating that your qualifications and industry’s demands meet the criteria for H-1B visas.

General Application Steps for an H-1B Visa

There is an annual cap on the number of H-1B visas granted at 65,000, excluding the 20,000 petitions that are cap-exempt because they are for people with a Master’s degree or higher from a U.S. educational institution. Therefore, getting a H-1B visa is based on a lottery system. The H-1B visa requires employer sponsorship, meaning an employer will apply for the visa on your behalf. Your employer must first participate in the Electronic Registration Process to be considered for the selection process. You can learn more about it here.  If the employer’s registration is selected to file an H-1B cap petition, your employer can proceed with filing an H-1B visa application with USCIS. 

When filing the H-1B visa application with USCIS, the employer must demonstrate the education and work experience necessary to show that the position you are applying for is skill-intensive. The employers must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL) to demonstrate their eligibility to seek foreign labor and their willingness to adhere to U.S. labor laws. Once they have received the labor certification, the employer must submit the completed I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS with required accompanying documentation, including the labor certification. Finally, if the worker is located outside of the United States, they must apply for admission to the U.S. at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Visas for Family Members

If you are an H-1B Beneficiary, you can bring a spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age with you to the United States on H-4 classification. You can apply for your dependent family members to obtain H-4 visas as part of the I-129 your employer submits to USCIS.

Benefits of the H-1B Visa

The primary benefits of the H-1B visa program are as follows:

  • You can stay in the United States for up to 6 years total;
  • You can get visas for your spouse and children;
  • There is a pathway to permanent residency;
  • You can change employers; and
  • You do not have to maintain a foreign residence.

Why Hire an Immigration Attorney?

The H-1B process can be complicated to navigate, with various steps, and requiring the participation of your employer. An immigration attorney can help you and your employer navigate the whole process, make sure your application is completed correctly and on time, and will help you understand complex laws and regulations that surround the H-1B visa process.

If you would like to learn more about applying for an H-1B visa, contact us for an assessment or consultation. 

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