H1-B

The H1-B visa is available to non-U.S. citizens who wish to work in a specialty occupation, perform services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense cooperative research and development project, or work as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.

Depending on the category, an applicant must have a four-year bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) or higher, advanced training or vocational skills or qualify to work in research and development projects with the Department of Defense (DOD), or be a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.

The H1-B visa application is initiated by an employer who cannot find an American employee who is qualified for the position. The employer must request applications and, if the job requirements are met by a foreign employee, the employer will initiate the H1-B application process.

H1-B Eligibility and Benefits

Once your employer has identified a foreign employee to fill a specialty occupation, the employer must file a nonimmigrant petition on your behalf. A non-U.S. citizen may qualify for an H1-B visa if they:

  • Wish to work in a specialty occupation;
  • Have exceptional merit and ability relating to a DOD research and development project; or
  • Are a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.

To be eligible, the applicant must have an employer-employee relationship with a petitioning U.S. employer. The job must qualify as a specialty occupation and be in the applicant’s field of study. The applicant must be paid the actual or prevailing wage of the occupation, whichever is higher. And an H1-B visa must be available at the time the petition is filed.

H1-B1 Visa for Specialty Occupations

To be eligible for an H1-B1 visa, the applicant must have a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) or higher in the degree in their specific specialty.

In addition, the applicant must be applying to work in a position in which one of the following criteria applies:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher is normally the minimum requirement for the position
  • The degree requirement is common to the industry in a similar organization or, alternatively, the job is so complex or unique that it can only be performed by someone with a particular degree
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
  • The nature of the job duties is so specific that the knowledge required to do the job is usually associated with someone who has attained a bachelor’s degree or higher

The applicant must:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
  • Hold a degree that is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree or the higher degree required by the specialty occupation in the US
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes the applicant to practice the specialty occupation and be immediately engaged in that occupation in the state of intended employment

H1-B2 Visa for Research and Development with the DOD

The H1-B2 visa is for people who work in research and development for the Department of Defense. The applicant must be applying for a job that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher. The applicant’s petition must include:

  • A verification letter from the DOD project manager stating that the applicant will be working on a cooperative research and development project under a government-to-government agreement administered by the DOD
  • A general description of the applicant’s duties and the actual dates of employment on the project
  • A statement that indicates the names of non-citizens who are currently employed on the project, their dates of employment, and the names and dates of employment of non-US citizens whose employment on the project ended within the past year.

To be eligible, the H1-B2 applicant must have a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) or higher in the occupational field in which he or she will be performing services.

H1-B3 Visa for Fashion Models

To be eligible for an H1-B3 visa, the applicant must be applying for a position that requires a fashion model of prominence. The applicant must be a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.

Benefits of an H1-B Visa

The primary benefit of an H1-B visa is its portability. Once a foreign professional is authorized to work in the US, an H1-B visa holder can port their status from one employer to another during the length of their stay.

In addition, an H1-B visa grants an applicant an initial stay of three years and can be easily extended.

The H1-B visa is available to people from any country, and the requirements are easier to fill than many other visa classification types.

Finally, the H1-B visa is a dual intent visa, meaning that an applicant can pursue legal permanent residency while in the US on an H1-B visa. This is a significant advantage over many other types of visas.

Is an H1-B Immigration Visa Right for You?

If you wish to work in a specialty occupation, perform services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a DOD cooperative research and development project, or work as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability, an H1-B visa might be for you.

The requirements will vary depending on whether you are applying for an H1-B1, H1-B2, or H1-B3 visa. Regardless of which type of H1-B visa you apply for, your employer will need to complete the application, which will be entered into a lottery.

How to Apply for an H1-B Visa

To apply for an H1-B visa, your employer must complete and sign Form I-129, pay the filing fee, if applicable, and provide all required evidence and supporting documentation.

Once your application is received by USCIS, they will process your application. Your employer will receive:

  • Notice confirming the application was received
  • A biometric services notice, if applicable
  • Notice to appear for an interview, if required
  • Notice of the USCIS decision

There is an annual limit on the number of H1-B visas that are approved every year. As a result, the USCIS enters all H1-B petitions entered into a lottery. H1-B applications are selected randomly until the number of petitions reaches the annual cap, which is 85,000.

There are also strict dates that apply. You cannot file your H1-B petition until April 1 and, if your petition is selected and approved, you cannot begin work until October 1 of the same year.

Your employer must also have an approved Labor Conditions Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor. This certifies that your employer can hire foreign workers, and states that the employer will provide fair compensation and treatment. It also proves that the employer must hire foreign workers because a US citizen is not qualified, available, or willing to work in the position.

Living and Working in the US

If your application for an H1-B visa is approved, you will be able to live and work in the US for three years. You can easily extend your stay for up to three more years.

While here, you can port your status from one employer to another. You can also pursue legal permanent residency while in the US on an H1-B visa.

Validity of an H1-B Visa

An H1-B visa is valid for up to three years. Your stay can be easily extended, but generally cannot last more than six years.

The applicant’s employer will be responsible for the reasonable costs of return transportation if the employer terminates the applicant’s employment before the end of the authorized stay. The employer is not responsible for the costs of return if the applicant voluntarily resigns from the position.

An H1-B visa applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may seek admission to the United States under an H-4 nonimmigrant classification.

How We Can Help

For assistance with an H1-B visa application, you and your employer should work with a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney. Our team has years of experience assisting people with H1-B visa applications and can help you and your employer prepare and submit the application. Working with an experienced immigration attorney will give you the best chance of a successful outcome in your application for immigration.

We can also help your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may seek admission to the United States under an H-4 nonimmigrant classification.

To learn more, call (323) 739-7532 or complete our short online form to schedule a free 20-minute consultation today.