An H-1B visa is a work permit that allows an alien to work for an employer in the United States temporarily in a specialty occupation. A person may hold a H-1B visa for a maximum of six years and can be issued in increments of three years at a time. There are certain conditions where an employee can hold a H-1B visa for a period beyond the six-year period.

H-1B visas are limited. There are only 85,000 H-1B visas given per year and many are restricted to individuals who have received an advanced degree from a U.S college or university.

What Is Considered a Specialty Occupation?

Occupations requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and at least a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent are considered specialty occupations. Some specialty occupations are:

  • Have a minimum entry requirement of a bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent.
  • The degree requirement for the job is usual to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual that holds degree.
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position.
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

What Are the Requirements for a H-1B Visa Work Permit?

For a specialty occupation H-1B petition, the employee must have a bachelor’s degree or the comparable experience.

The employer for an H-1B petition must acquire a labor condition application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor before filing the H-1B petition with the USCIS. Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation.

Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be involved in that specialty in the state of planned employment.

Have education, training, or experience in the specialty that is equal to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty

How Can I Apply for an H-1B Visa?

Before applying for an H-1B visa you must have a sponsoring U.S. employer. The employer will submit an application to the Department of Labor and then with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the employer’s petition with the USCIS is approved then you may apply for your H-1B visa.

I Run a Business. How Can I Hire Foreign Workers Using an H-1B Visa?

A company hiring an H-1B foreign worker has tremendous responsibilities and the guidance of an immigration attorney is strongly encouraged. There are many steps an employer must take. A sample of these steps includes:

  • Determining the actual and prevailing wage for the position
  • Informing workers or their representatives of the intent to hire a foreign worker
  • Submitting a Labor Conditions Application with the DOL
  • Upon DOL certification, filing with the USCIS
  • Once approved by the USCIS, then the employee applies for the H-1B
  • The foreign worker cannot begin their employment until the H-1B visa is granted

How Long Is an H-1B Visa Valid For?

The H-1B is generally valid for six years and can be done in two three-year increments. In some circumstances the visa may be extended beyond the 6-year period. If the H-1B holder has filed either a Labor Certification application or an I-140 petition 365 days before the six-year limitation AND the LC or I-140 has not been denied, the H-1B visa holder may extend his or her status on a yearly basis beyond the six-year limitation.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get an H-1B Visa?

Whether you are an employer or an employee, applying for a work permit can be complicated. An immigration lawyer knows the ins-and-outs of the H-1B process and can recommend what steps you need to take. An experienced attorney can also help an H-1B holder transition to US and meet all H-1B visa application conditions.