The H-1B is one of the highly sought-after visa categories in the professional and business visas classification. With relatively attainable eligibility criteria and faster turnaround times, it is also highly competitive. In 2020, there were over 200,000 registrations that were reduced down to an annual H1B cap of 85,000 visas through randomized selection.
What Is an H1B Visa?
The H1 B is a non-immigrant visa that allows professionals of specialty occupations to enter and work in the US. The visa must be petitioned by a sponsoring employer with a job offer that meets the labor conditions outlined by the Department of Labor. Fields of work included as specialty occupations may include, but are not limited to, science, engineering, information technology, architecture, medicine, teaching, and accounting.
H1B Visa Requirements
One of the primary H1B visa requirements is sponsorship from a US based company. There is no provision for individuals to self-petition for an H-1B visa, so an employer or potential employer must petition on behalf of the employee. The petitioner or employer must also apply for a Labor Condition Application certified by the Department of Labor with their petition. The only exception to the labor condition rule is for applicants of the H1B2 subcategory for DOD cooperative research and development project workers.
H-1B Visa Categories
Aside from the most popular H-1B visa for specialty occupations, there are the lesser-known subcategories of H1B2 for DOD researchers and development project workers, and H1B3 for fashion models. These are specific visas to allow these professionals to obtain H1B visas under a separate set of eligibility criteria.
In order to qualify for the H-1B visa for specialty occupations, both the job being offered as well as the foreign employee who would potentially fill that position must meet certain eligibility criteria.
The job must be of a specialty occupation that requires highly specialized knowledge and the minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Likewise, the beneficiary must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and possess all of the education and expertise required of the position being offered by the petitioning company.
The H1B2 also requires the minimum of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, as well as a verification letter from the DOD project manager, and detailed descriptions of duties, dates, and the overall project. It does not, however, require a Labor Condition Application.
In order to be eligible for the H1B3, the position must require a fashion model of prominence, and the beneficiary must be a fashion model of “distinguished merit and ability”. Labor Condition Application is required for this sub-category.
There is currently an annual cap of 65,000 H1B visas that has been mandated by Congress. Foreign workers who possess advanced degrees of a US master’s degree level or higher are eligible for an H1B cap exemption with an additional 20,000 visas allocated for this group. Additionally, H1B workers in Guam and the CNMI are exempt from the H1B cap for petitions filed prior to the end of 2029.
The H1B visa is initially granted for up to three years, however an H1B extension can stretch this out to a maximum of six years. After six years, beneficiaries must reside outside the US for at least one full year before reapplying for a new H-1B visa.
If an H1B visa holder finds himself in the position of transferring jobs within the US, an H1B transfer must be made. In this situation, the new employer must file a petition on behalf of the beneficiary. A 60-day grace period, which begins on the final day at the previous job, is provided for the transfer process.
H1B to Green Card Process
The H-1B category is one of only a few non-immigrant visa categories that allows visa holders to pursue permanent residence while they are in the US. Since the H1B visa is limited to a 6-year maximum stay, those who wish to stay longer without leaving the US may consider the transition from H1B to green card instead. There are several employment based green card options available for a variety of scenarios, including EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4, and EB5. At Immigration General Counsel, we can not only take care of your H-1B visa needs. If you so choose, we also provide expert immigration counsel on your smooth transition toward permanent residence in a way that best fits your circumstances.
H1B Spouse Visa
The H1B spouse visa, or more accurately, the H4 visa classification, provides for spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of the H1B visa holder to temporarily reside in the US. For spouses of H1B visaholders who have begun their employment based green card application process, employment authorization may also be available.
US immigration in general is a constantly changing landscape, and especially so in the current political climate. At times like this, it is more important than ever for H-1B visa holders or applicants to seek expert immigration counsel regarding their applications, extensions, transfers, or status in general. At Immigration General Counsel, we are always up to date on the latest H1B news and affairs to be your greatest advocate in tumultuous times.
Choosing the Right H-1B Lawyer
Choosing an immigration attorney for your H1B case should be a careful decision that not only considers experience and expertise, but also personalized service and attention to detail. With continuous updates in H1B visa news and regulations, it is important to have an attorney by your side who will truly guide you through every step of the way. Also, you may want to consider whether your immigration attorney is experienced in any permanent residence categories you may wish to pursue at a later date. The ability to set long-term immigration goals can be helpful in choosing your strategy for today.
Immigration General Counsel Advantages
As a boutique immigration law firm, we at Immigration General Counsel believe in providing our clients with direct access to their attorneys for customized services. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and always stay on top of every new change in the immigration landscape including the latest H1B visa news.
Our expertise extends beyond H-1B into a variety of employment based green card categories. With specialties in EB5, EB1, EB2, and EB3, we provide smooth transitions toward permanent residency for our clients who choose to seek it.