What is an H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is for foreign workers who hold specialty occupations. Generally speaking, a specialty occupation is one "which requires the attainment of a bachelor's degree or higher in a specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States." However specialized knowledge may be acceptable in lieu of a degree.

H-1B Requirements

There are two main requirements to obtaining an H-1B visa: First, the employer must demonstrate a need for someone in a specialty occupation. Second, the foreign national must have the required degree –– or its equivalent –– in a subject closely related to the position.

Further, applicants must have a job offer from a qualified U.S. employer for work to be performed in the U.S., and the applicant must be paid according to market value. The employer must file an attestation with the Department of Labor stating that they will pay the applicant the prevailing wage.

Our office has successfully obtained H-1B visas for various positions, including: computer professionals, data programmers, technology officers, dieticians, electronics specialists, fashion designers, graphic designers, news writers, industrial designers, interior designers, investment analysts, market research analysts, medical technologists, social workers, teachers (kindergarten, grade school, and high school), university professors, and engineers.

H-1B Visa Application Process

The application process for the H-1B visa requires the employer to file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor and submit a petition with the USCIS. This process usually takes several months. However, the USCIS offers an option for premium processing. For a $1,225 fee, the USCIS will process the petition in 15 days or fewer.

In January of 2020, the Department of Homeland Security published a notice that substantially changes the way H-1B cap petitions are processed. It’s worth noting here that the majority of H-1B petitions are subject to an annual cap, and there is typically a very high demand for those slots. Last year (2019) over 200,000 H-1B petitions were filed during the first week of the petition period. Yet only 85,000 spots were available. The USCIS conducts a random lottery to determine which petitions are accepted. (Though, even this has changed a little. Individuals with master’s degrees now have a slightly better chance of obtaining an H-1B visa than the rest of the field.)

Within the H-1B visa application process there are some key dates to remember, including: 

  • March, 1 2020 –– The day when the initial registration period begins.
  • March, 20 2020 –– The day when the USCIS intends to close the initial registration period. This is the H-1B application deadline.
  • March, 31 2020 –– The last (potential) day on which the USCIS will hold the H-1B visa lottery. It may be held at an earlier date between March 21-31.

To complete H-1B registration, one must include relevant information relating to the registrant (including name, employee identification number, and address). In addition, some may choose to include information relating to the position in question.

H-1B Visas Not Subject to the Cap

Some H-1B petitions are not subject to the annual H-1B cap. These include individuals who already have been counted toward the cap in a previous year and have not been outside the U.S. subsequently for more than one year. Also, certain employers, such as universities, government-funded research organizations, and some nonprofit entities are exempt from the H-1B cap.

Additionally, there is a separate cap of an additional 20,000 H-1B visas available to foreign nationals who have earned an advanced degree from a U.S. university. There are also a certain number of H-1B visas reserved for Citizens of Chile and the Philippines.

The goal of our law office is to make sure all petitions are ready to be filed weeks in advance of the March 20 filing date. In this manner, we ensure all forms are properly signed, all checks have the correct amounts, and all documents necessary are included in the application package. Click here for more information on improving your chances of getting approved for an H-1B visa.

Hire an H-1B Lawyer

Our managing attorney Karen-Lee Pollak and experienced immigration support team work with the applicant to submit the most complete and thorough petition, which emphasizes the applicant’s education, qualifications, and experience. In addition, our attorney and experienced immigration support team know the processes and procedures to work with various government agencies to ensure the best possible outcome. Please contact us to discuss your immigration options.

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