The H-1B Visa: A Comprehensive Guide

The H-1B Visa

An H-1B Visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act, allows for non-immigrant workers to be employed in a specialty occupation in the United States. The H-1B Visa program was introduced to allow International Professional and International Students the opportunity to live and work in the US. This is a highly sought after visa and only 65,000 visas are given every year, which can make obtaining one difficult.

This visa is open to individuals from all over the world and is extremely popular because it allows for “dual intent”, which means that the visa holder is allowed to apply for permanent residency.

Who Is The H-1B Visa For?

Individuals who wish to apply for an H-1B Visa are foreigners seeking employment in the United States for a set amount of time. The employment they seek must be a specialty occupation which they have education or specialty training in. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, a speciality occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a highly specialized body of knowledge, and the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation.

Industries that are usually applicable include IT, accounting, banking, advertising, architecture, medicine, engineering, journalism, law, research, sales, teaching, and management, to name a few. The applicant must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from their country, that is necessary to fill the specialty occupation as outlined by the employer.

The employer must prove the position offered to the applicant is a specialty occupation that cannot be filled by just anyone and requires a certain knowledge or skill set. The applicant must prove their background and experience in the specialty area, and their ability to perform the tasks of the job.

Generally, the visa is for applicants who do not wish to seek permanent residency. However, an application will not be just because they wish to seek a green card. This means the H-1B Visas offers “dual intent”, which is not offered with many visas.

The term of the visa is initially granted for three years but can be extended one time for a combined total of six years. During this time the H-1B Visa holder is allowed to apply for a green card, switch companies, hold multiple jobs, and work part-time. These are just some many advantages of an H-1B Visa.

How to Obtain An H-1B Visa

The applicant is not allowed to apply for an H-1B Visa, as it requires sponsoring from a US employer. This means the individual must search for an H-1B sponsor that meets their criteria, as well as one where they can fulfill the specialty occupation. They apply for jobs with these sponsors, and in the event that they are offered employment, they work with the employer to get their petition for an H-1B visa filed.

The filing period for H-1B’s starts April 1st and continues until the quota of 65,000 petitions has been met. The employer petitions for the H-1B visa by filing Form ETA-9035 and Form I-129.

Most individuals seeking an H-1B visa begin the process in January to conduct research and apply for a number of jobs, increasing their chances of obtaining one. It’s extremely important to make sure the jobs desired are considered a specialty occupation and that they are under a US Sponsor Company. Late February is when job offers are usually made and accepted, at which time it’s a good idea to bring in immigration attorney to help with the process. Beginning in early April, the petitions are filed and taken into consideration and the applicant and employer wait for approval.

How The H-1B is Different from Other Employment Visas

The H-1B visa is different from other employment visas because it is specifically targeted towards citizens of foreign countries who possess specialized skills. Engineers, lawyers, and teachers, among others, can obtain an H-1B visa. H-1B visa holders are also allowed to apply for a green card, which some employment visas don’t allow you to do while residing in the United States with that particular visa.

Applying for visas can be extremely complicated and stressful, so it is highly advised to seek out the help of an immigration attorney. They have specialized insight into the immigration process and will be able to help determine if an H-1B visa is right for your unique situation, or if another visa is more applicable. Speak with an immigration attorney to find out more information on the H-1B Visa.

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