H-1B visas are designed to attract professionals in Specialty Occupations (researchers, professors, engineers, software programmers and other professionals). One benefit of the H-1B visa is that even though it is a non-immigrant visa, it has an option of dual intent, meaning the holder can have legal immigration intent (apply for and obtain a green card) while still a holder of the visa.

These visas are strictly limited to employment by the U.S. sponsoring employer.

Eligibility and Requirements

Specialty Occupations

Under this category the applicant must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or higher, or its equivalent.
  2. The degree related to this specialty occupation must be fitting to the job or the job be so complex that it can only be performed by that individual with such degree.
  3. Employers will generally require specialty related degree or the equivalent to perform the complexities associated with the job and degree.

Qualified applicants in this category accepting a job offer must meet ONE of the following criteria:

  1. Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from the United States that falls in line with the specific specialized occupation.
  2. Hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to that of the U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher in that particular specialized occupation.
  3. Be certified in that specialty occupation or have related state license which fall in line with the authorization of working in the specialty occupation within the intended state of employment.
  4. Have the proper training and related experience, along with recognition of expertise in field related directly to the specialized occupation.

Under this Specialty Occupation there is an additional requirement through the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification, where a Labor Condition requires that the employer file to receive an approved Form ETA-9035 for the employee.

Period of Stay

The H-1B visa is issued for a period of up to three years, and may be extended, but may not exceed a total period of six years.

Family of H-1B Visa Holders

Spouses and unmarried children under age 21 may enter the U.S. under the H-4 nonimmigrant classification, and are not allowed to seek employment or work in the United States.

Related Forms

Complete Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Workers. Family members already in the U.S. or seeking change of status or extension of stay, complete Form I-539.

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