Specialty Occupation Visa
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This specialized visa allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in speciality occupations in fields such as science, engineering, and information technology.
More Information About the Process
Often, companies in the United States will want to employ foreign nationals in various occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge. The H-1B visa will enable those companies to hire those individuals for a temporary period of time. The H-1B visa is available to foreign nationals who have earned a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a field related the proffered role. In order to be eligible for the visa, an employer must sponsor a foreign national (self-petition is not an option).
Unlike some other work permit visas for the United States, there are 65,000 regular cap-subject H-1Bs available each year, with an additional 20,000 H-1B spots set aside for foreign nationals who hold a US Master’s degree (or higher). It is important to ensure that the timing of your visa application is right, since the filing period for cap-subject H-1Bs is the first five business days of April for an H-1B that would start October 1st of that year, or whenever the petition is approved, if after October 1st.
In recent years however, there has been a lottery system to determine which cases the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will receipt and adjudicate, since the demand for H-1Bs is greater than the number of available visas. Once a cap-subject H-1B has been approved, the foreign national is no longer subject to the lottery or April filing timeline.
The holder of an H-1B visa can transfer employers once they have been admitted, and so it is flexible in terms of allowing individuals to adjust their status in the United States without raising concerns regarding their permanent intent. A first H-1B is granted for an initial period of up to three years, with the option to extend for an additional three years. In order to extend beyond the six year limit, certain conditions must be met, namely the start of the green card process.
Frequently asked questions about H1-B Visa
1. What happens if my H-1B is not selected in the lottery?
Nothing – it is as if USCIS never received the filing. It does not count as a denial.
2. I’ve been working on the H-1B with my employer, but want to transfer to a new company. Do I have to apply against the lottery again?
No, once you have counted against the H-1B cap, you do not have to go through the lottery process again unless you have exhausted your time in H-1B status without taking steps to extend past the six years, and you have spent at least one year outside the US. This is one of the primary perks of this visa.
3. I didn’t complete my degree, but I have industry experience. Is it still possible to qualify for an H-1B?
The requirement for an H-1B is that the foreign national earned a minimum of a US Bachelor’s degree. This can be achieved by graduating from an accredited US college or university that awards Bachelor’s degrees, having your foreign education evaluated and deemed equivalent to a US Bachelor’s degree earned from an accredited US college or university, or having a combination of education and/or training evaluated to be equivalent to a US Bachelor’s degree earned from an accredited US college or university.
4. I was accepted into the lottery and my H-1B was approved, but I didn’t start working for that company. A new company in the US is looking to hire me on the H-1B. Can I transfer employers?
It depends on the situation, but generally no, you would need to file a new cap subject H-1B petition.
5. I am nearing the end of my six years in H-1B status. Is it possible to extend the H-1B beyond six years?
Yes, if your employer is willing to sponsor you for permanent employment (otherwise known as a “green card”). A Permanent Labor Certification must be filed on your behalf before the start of your sixth year in H-1B status in order to extend the H-1B. The length of the extension will be between one and three years depending on your specific situation and background.
Why should you hire Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell to represent you?
The Trump administration has made it more challenging than ever to get an H-1B, making it more difficult than ever to file an H-1B petition without the assistance of experienced immigration legal counsel. Our firm has experienced counsel who has successfully submitted applications for H-1B visas in the past, and who would be happy to speak with you and see if this option is the best way to proceed in your particular circumstances.
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