H-1B VISA GUIDE

The H-1B visa category is available for individuals employed in the United States in a “specialty occupation.” A specialty occupation requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized field of knowledge as a minimum for entry into the occupation.  The job being filled must require the degree held by the foreign worker.  Specialty occupations include fashion models, graphic designers, fashion designers, accounting, architecture, engineering, law, and various other types of jobs.  The education of the foreign worker does not need to be gained in the United States.  If the foreign worker’s education was obtained abroad, a credentials evaluation can be done to show that the education is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher.  The U.S. employer must be willing to pay the prevailing wage and offer the same job conditions as those in place for U.S. workers.

Period of Stay

The USCIS normally grants an intial H-1B visa for three years and the visa may be extended to a total of six years.  The maximum numbers of years one may spend in the U.S. in H-1b status at one time is six years.  However, there are some instances where H-1B status may be extended beyond the 6-year limitation.  If the foreign worker has filed a labor certification application through their employer or an  I-140 immigrant petition 365 days before the expiration of the six-year limitation, the H-1B visa status may be extended beyond six years in one-year increments until the employment-based petition and permanent residency is approved or denied.  Or, when the foreign worker has an employment-based I-140 petition approved, but per-country visa quotas prevent the person from obtaining his or her green card at this time, the H-1B status may be extended for a three-year period.

Family Members

A spouse or unmarried child of a person with H-1B visa status may obtain an H-4 visa. Individuals with H-4 visa status cannot work in the United States, but may attend school.

Job Termination

If an H-1B worker is terminated before the end of the visa term, the employer may have to pay the cost of transporting the employee to his country of origin.  Furthermore, H-1B foreign workers who lose their jobs must either find another employer to petition on their behalf, change to a different immigration status or return to their home country.  The last day of employment is the last day the H-1b visa is valid.  If employment ends, the visa is automatically no longer valid and it cannot be used for other employment or to re-enter the United States.

H-1B – GENERAL INFORMATION

American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC-21)

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