H-1B is the most commonly used non-immigrant work visa. This non-immigrant status allows you to work for a U.S. employer in “specialty occupations” or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability. A specialty occupation is one that requires a US Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
H-1B occupations include IT positions such as software engineers, computer programmers, systems analysts, network administrators, database administrators, etc. Other jobs such as accountants, teachers, scientists, engineers, etc. also qualify.
To apply for an H-1B visa, you will need a job offer from your employer, and your employer must pay you the minimum prevailing wage as determined by the Department of Labor. When approved, the initial H-1B term is for up to three years, and you may extend your status for another 3 years for a total of 6 years. The extension generally cannot go beyond a total six years except under certain circumstances.
When can I apply for H-1B status?
There is a quota of H-1B visas each year and the USCIS fiscal year begins each year on October 1st. You may apply up to six months ahead (April 1st) and can continue filing until the quota is used up.
Can I change employers?
Yes, you may change employers upon the filing of a new application by your prospective employer.
To be eligible for such change of employer, you must be currently on H-1B status, were lawfully admitted into the United States, and have not worked in the Unites States without authorization.
Your new employer must file a new petition on your behalf and pay all relevant filing fees on your behalf. Once your application is filed, you may begin working for your new employer since such transfers are not subject to the annual quota cap.
However, please note that there is an exception where the cap-subject/cap-exempt rules still apply. If you are currently employed by a cap-exempt employer and wishing to transfer to a non-exempt (i.e., cap-subject) employer, the quota cap will apply. In this case, the Petition can be filed only on April 1 st.
Can I travel outside the U.S. while I am on H-1B Status?
Yes, a foreign national in the US on H-1B status is eligible to travel overseas during the validity of the H-1B stay, and is permitted to pursue Lawful Permanent Residence (“Green Card”) in the US.
How long does the USCIS take to render a decision on my application?
It depends on the case and location since every case is unique and every location has its own processing time. The typical duration for processing any H-1B visa application can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months. Normally, it will take about 2 to 3 months to receive a decision from USCIS.
Can I expedite the processing time for my H-1B visa petition?
Yes, H-1B premium processing is a way to expedite your application process. Your H-1B petition will be adjudicated within 15 calendar days for an additional $1,225 premium process fee.
Can an H-1B visa holder intend to immigrate permanently to the USA?
Yes, an H1B visa is known as a “dual intent” visa. An H-1B holder can be the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition, apply for adjustment of status, or take other steps toward Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card) status without affecting his or her H1B status.
AT Atallah Law Group, LLC, we have successfully handled professional visa applications for clients throughout New England and the rest of the world. In addition to the H-1B work visa or the L-1A work visa, we also help employers and individuals obtain:
- TN-NAFTA: Work visa for Canadians and Mexicans
- E-3 visa: Work visa for Australians