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What is an H-1B Visa?


H-1B — an employment-based, non-immigrant visa — permits a foreign national employee of a U.S. based organization to live and work in the country. Filing season for H-1B visas is set to begin on April 1st this year, so time is of the essence to take advantage of an opportunity to live and work in the United States. Here are some things both U.S. employers and their foreign national employees need to know about H-1B visas.

What are the Qualifications for an H-1B Visa?

H-1B visas must be initiated by an employer in the U.S. The following qualifications must be met to be eligible for an H-1B visa:

  • The profession must be a specialty occupation in which the applicant has a minimum education level of a Bachelor’s Degree — this may include but is not limited to the following:
    • Computer science
    • Architecture
    • Medicine
    • Dentistry
    • Engineering
    • Accounting
  • There must be an employer-employee relationship.

How Long Can Someone Live and Work in the U.S. With an H-1B Visa?

Upon approval, an H-1B visa holder will be allowed to live and work in the United States for up to 3 years. Should the sponsoring employer wish to have a foreign national employee continue their work in the U.S., an extension can be filed. The maximum period of total stay is 6 years. In special cases, the period can be extended beyond 6 years.

Is There a Limit to How Many H-1B Visas are Available?

Yes, there is a limit on how many H-1B visas will be accepted each year. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) caps H-1B visas at 65,000 each fiscal year. However, there is a special provision in which an additional 20,000 visas are available to applicants who have earned a Master’s Degree from a university in the United States.

How to Obtain an H-1B Visa

With the strict cap on H-1B visa applications, making errors can delay the process and leave you without permission to work or live in the U.S. Knowing how the process works can help you better prepare:

  • Applicants must have a U.S. Employer as a sponsor.
  • The employer must submit a Labor Certification Condition application.
  • Once the Labor Condition Certification is approved, the employer files a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129).
  • After the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker is approved, the applicant will be required to process their visa in their home country’s US embassy or consulate.

The H-1B visa process is complicated, especially for those who are not experienced with the U.S. Immigration System. Having an immigration attorney assist you with your H-1B visa application can help increase your chances of an H-1B approval. Whether you are an employer or a foreign national employee, we can help! Contact Yekrangi & Associates at (949) 478-4963 to learn more about how we can assist you with all your immigration needs.

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