The U.S. H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that enables U.S. businesses to hire graduate-level employees in specialist occupations requiring theoretical or technical knowledge in specific areas such as IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, math, science, medicine, and so on. Any work at a professional level that generally requires you to have a bachelor’s degree or greater may be subject to the H-1B specialty occupation visa. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree or greater, you may be able to demonstrate degree equivalence through job experience and/or other skills.
H-1B Visa Cap
H-1B visas are subject to an annual visa cap every fiscal year. US employers may start applying for an H-1B visa six months prior to the real visa start date. Current immigration law provides for the availability of a total of 85,000 H-1B visas each fiscal year. This figure involves 65,000 H-1B visas accessible to foreign employees in specialty (professional)-level occupations with at least a bachelor’s degree, with an extra 20,000 visas accessible from an American academic institution for those specialty employees with an advanced degree. This cap has been met for the past several years. Once the cap is reached, the USCIS maintains a lottery accessible for H-1B visas.
Eligibility for H-1B Visa
The US H1-B visa is intended for use in specialized occupations for employees. To qualify as a specialized occupation, the work must fulfill one of the following requirements:
- Have a Bachelor’s or higher degree or equivalent.
- The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry, or the job is so complex or unique that an individual with a degree can only perform it.
- The employer usually needs a degree for the position or its equivalent.
- The nature of the particular responsibilities is so specialized and complicated that the understanding necessary to carry out the tasks is generally linked with the achievement of a bachelor’s degree or greater.
You must fulfill one of the following requirements to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialized occupation:
- Have graduated from an accredited college or university with a US bachelor’s or higher degree needed by the particular specialty occupation.
- Hold a foreign degree in the specialty occupation that is equal to a US bachelor’s degree or greater.
- Hold an unrestricted state permit, registration, or certification that allows you to practice the specialty occupation in full and to engage in that specialty in the expected state of jobs.
- Have schooling, training, or specialty experience equal to completing such a degree, and have recognition of specialty competence through gradually accountable roles directly linked to the specialty.
Initially, the H-1B visa is granted for up to three years, but may then be extended for up to six years. Although the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few US visa categories recognized as dual-purpose, meaning that the H-1B visa holder can apply for and obtain a US Green Card on an H-1B visa in the US. If you still have an H-1B visa in the US and want to stay in the US for more than six years, you can apply for permanent residency to receive a Green Card. If you do not obtain permanent residence before your H-1B visa expires, then you must live outside the US for at least one year before you reapply for another H or L visa.
Get Legal Assistance
If you want to learn more about or if you’re planning to apply for an H-1B visa, it’s best to consult with an experienced US immigration attorney. Contact our team at (956) 412-0707 to determine how we can assist you.