H1B Visa – Immigration Law

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The H1B visa is a temporary work permit that allows a foreign national to work in the United States for a temporary period. It is available for offers of employment that are in a specialty occupation that require theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, including, but not limited to: scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.  A person may hold H1B visa status for a maximum of six years, and it may be issued in increments of up to three years by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. An employee may receive extensions of H1B visa status beyond six years in certain circumstances, if s/he is in the process of applying for employment-based permanent residence (commonly referred to as the “green card”). H1B visa are numerically limited, with a total of 85,000 visas available each fiscal year (20,000 of these visas are restricted to individuals who have received master’s degrees or higher from U.S colleges or universities). This limitation is referred to as the H1B visa cap.

Requirements

  • For a specialty occupation H1B visa petition, the employee must have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent experience.
  • The employer for an H1B visa petition must obtain a labor condition application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor before filing the H1B petition with the USCIS.
  • An employee who has previously received an H1B visa, or been granted H1B status is generally exempt from the numerical limitations.
  • An employee who is presently employed in H1B visa status may utilize the portability provisions of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) to transition their H1B to a different employer.
  • The spouse and minor child/ren of an H1B visa employee are authorized to live in the United States in H-4 status, and to study, but are not permitted to work.

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