The H-1B visa classification permits foreign workers in specialty occupations to lawfully work in the United States for a specified period of time. H-1B visas are also available to eligible researchers and development project workers performing services in the United States Department of Defense, as well as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability. H-1B recipients are allowed to stay in the United States a total of 6 consecutive years.
To petition for an H-1B visa on behalf of a prospective foreign worker in a specialty occupation, a U.S employer must first obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the U.S Department of Labor and thereafter demonstrate that the offered job satisfies at least one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:
- Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
- The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
- The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
- The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.
In addition, the worker in the specialty occupation must meet one of the following criteria:
Has completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
Holds a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation
Holds an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification authorizing the holder to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
Has education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and has recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.
Immediate family members of H-1B visa holders may seek admission to the United States in the H-4 nonimmigrant classification. Beginning May 26, 2015, certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants can apply for employment authorization as long as the H-1B nonimmigrant has already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status.
The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit of 65,000 visas. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Additionally, H-1B workers offered a position at an institution of higher education, a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization, are not subject to this numerical limit.
Contact a Skilled Business Immigration Lawyer for More Information*
Gold Law Group assists clients with a wide variety of business-related immigration matters including H-1B visas. If you are a foreign national interested in applying for an H-1B visa, or if you are a U.S employer wishing to file an H-1B visa petition on behalf of a prospective foreign national worker, please call 323.394.1281 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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