H-1B Professional Worker Visa

The H-1B visa is for professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience, and fashion models. The H-1B visa permits a stay of up to 6 years for the professional worker and dependent family members (H-4 visa).

Note that there is a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas, plus 20,000 more for those holding advanced degrees. As a result, H-1Bs normally run out between April and October each year. However, there are several exemptions to the cap. If your case falls within one of the exemptions, you may be able to get an H-1B even if the cap has hit. If you do not qualify for an exemption, there may be an alternative visa to allow you to work in the same position.

H-1B Visa Requirements

  1. The H-1B job is in a specialty occupation that requires at least a bachelor’s degree.
  2. The H-1B worker holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, or the equivalent experience, in the appropriate field.
  3. The employer will pay the prevailing wage for the H-1B position, which can be found at the Online Wage Library.

H-1B Visa Filing Process

Step 1. The prospective employer files a labor condition application (LCA) with the US Department of Labor. In the LCA, the employer certifies the worker will receive the prevailing wage or higher, that there is no strike or lockout at the place of employment, that working conditions will not adversely affect U.S. workers, and that notice has been provided to the union or workers at the place of employment.

The labor condition application is filed electronically through the iCert Portal. It usually takes a week to process.

Note that this is different from the labor certification application in the green card process. There is no testing of the labor market through newspaper ads, etc.

Step 2. The prospective employer files an I-129 H-1B Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS.

If the H-1B worker holds a foreign degree, the degree will need to be evaluated to see if it is the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree. If the H-1B applicant is relying on experience to make up for some or all of the degree requirement, this experience will also need to be evaluated. Three years of progressively more responsible work experience counts towards one year of university education.

The H-1B petition normally takes two to four months to be processed. Premium processing is available to guarantee a decision in two weeks (unless there is a request for additional evidence). Premium processing costs $1,225.

If the H-1B worker is already in the United States in valid nonimmigrant status (i.e. not an overstay), then this worker may be able to change status in the United States through the I-129 H-1B petition. In most cases, the person will not need to return home for a visa.

Step 3. A candidate outside the United States must apply for an H-1B visa at a US Consulate. Consular processing for the H-1B visa normally takes a few weeks, depending on the schedule of the Consulate.

Upon entry, the H-1B worker will be given a stay that ends when the need for the worker ends, as stated in the nonimmigrant visa petition, for a maximum of three years. H-1B status may be extended for a total of six years, or longer, if a labor certification application has been timely filed. The H-1B worker may come to the United States 10 days before the authorized work period and stay 10 days later.

Note: If the H-1B worker is terminated early, the employer is liable for paying reasonable transportation costs home.


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