US H1-B Temporary Work Visas

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US H1-B non-immigrant visas are for skilled, educated individuals employed in specialized occupations outside of the United States. The H1-B visa enables foreign workers to temporarily work for a specific employer in the United States. Here's more information on H1-B visas.

US H1-B Temporary Work Visas

Recipients of an H1-B visa can remain in the US for three years at a time, but the stay can be extended to a maximum of six years.

In certain circumstances, such as when a labor certificate is pending or immigration petition is approved, individuals can apply for more extended stays. H-1B Visa holders are also able to recapture time spent abroad to extend their legal status past the expiration of the original approval notice.

The only requirement during the length of the stay is that the individual continue to work for the sponsoring employee. In order to stay compliant in status, the foreign national must submit an H-1B Change of Employer (COE) petition to the government when changing employers.

H1-B Visa Eligibility

In order to be eligible for an H1-B visa, an individual must have a Bachelor's Degree in their specific field, or an equivalent twelve years worth of experience. In fields where state licensure is mandatory, such as in law, the individual must have the necessary license, as well. The types of "specialized occupations" applicable to this type of visa include:

  • Agricultural Science
  • Architecture
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Business / Management
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Department of Defense
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Geology
  • Law
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine / Health Fields
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Surveying / Cartography
  • Theology
  • Veterinary science
  • Writing

Fashion modeling careers are also included under H1-B visas.

Applying for a H-1B Visa

Individuals themselves cannot apply for an H1-B visa. Rather, an employer must petition for a visa for a specific employee. However, if an individual meets the requirements, employers can start applying for a visa up to six months before the expected start date.

There is a yearly cap on the number of H1-B visas issued. The annual cap is limited to 65,000 visas. With the fiscal year beginning in October, all cap petitions are required no earlier than April 1, but are accepted for five business days thereafter. The first 20,000 petitions filed for beneficiaries with a Master’s Degree or higher are exempt from the cap. 

Workers employed by a higher education institution (such as a college or university), a nonprofit organization, or government research organization are also exempt from the annual cap. Those who are H-1B Cap exempt are able to petition all year.

Generally, individuals can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for Consular petitions, and the application process involves an interview, an application processing fee, and other requirements specific to the U.S. Embassy that is processing the visa. For specific information, refer to your embassy's website.

H1-B Visa Application Information

  • Applying for a Temporary Workers Visa
  • Employer Petitions
  • Information for Temporary Visitors
  • Questions about Temporary Worker Visas

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