The H-1B visa is the most common type of business visa. It allows foreign citizens in specialty occupations to temporarily live and work in the U.S. All H1-b visa holders must be sponsored by a U.S. employer.
In order to offer H-1B visa sponsorship to a foreign employee, the employer must have an available position in a specialty occupation. “Specialty occupation” is defined as an occupation that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge. Some examples of specialty occupations are accountants, computer professionals, physicians, market research analysts, financial analysts, teachers, architects, etc. Fashion models may also apply for the H-1B program.
In order to qualify for an H-1b visa the employee must have at least a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, and the field of study must be related to the job being offered. The job offered must usually require at least a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Certain family members of an H-1B visa holder are allowed to accompany the worker to the United States. The H1b visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission with an H-4 visa. H-4 visa holders are not allowed to work in the U.S. Children will not be allowed to remain after they turn 21 unless they receive a change of status to another type of visa such as a student visa.
The H-1B visa program has an annual cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a United States master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Additionally, H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to this numerical cap. USCIS will begin accepting H-1b visa petitions for the next filing season on April 2, 2013. The soonest an approved cap-subject H-1B worker will be able to start work will be October 1, 2013.
H1-B Validity Period
An H-1b visa is valid for three years. A foreign worker can be in H-1B status for a maximum continuous period of six years unless USCIS grants an extension. Certain foreign workers with labor certification applications or immigrant visa petitions in process for extended periods may stay in H1b status beyond the normal six-year limitation.
An experienced immigration attorney is your key to a successful H-1b visa application. Our H-1B attorney provides immigration assistance with all stages of the H1B process, including initial petitions, transfers, and extensions. Please contact us if you would like to sponsor a foreign employee for an H1-B visa.