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H1B Visa Application

20th September 2011
By hazel Ickes in Immigration Law
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The H1B Visa is the primary US work visa made available to foreign workers from all over the world. The H1B visa program was introduced by the US Government to offer and enable skilled International Professionals and/or International Students, the opportunity to live and work in the USA. The H1B falls under the category of most popularly sought US work visas.

Dual Intent Visa
One of the main advantages of the H1B visa is that it is a 'dual intent' visa. Even though the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few visa categories recognized as dual intent, meaning an H-1B holder can have legal immigration intent (apply for and obtain the green card) while still a holder of the visa. Green card facilitates the visa holder to file US citizenship application formafter having met the requirements for it.

How long can H1B Professionals Stay in US?
The length of time that a worker can have an H1B visa is usually for an 'initial' period of up to three years. The initial H1B visa can then be extended one time for up to a combined total of six (6) years.

An exception to maximum length of stay applies in certain circumstances:
1. one-year extensions if a labor certification application has been filed and is pending for at least 365 days; and
2. Three-year extensions if an I-140 Immigrant Petition has been approved.

Restrictions on H1B Visa
An H1B visa holder may only work for the sponsoring U.S. employer and only in the activities described in the filed petition. The H1B holder may work for more than one employer but must have a Form I-129 petition approved by each employer.

Employer Requirements:
The employer need to fulfill the following requirements
The job offer must be in a specialty occupation such as architecture, engineering, mathematics, etc.
There are criteria for wages offered and the actual job performed
No U.S. citizen or resident must be available for the job
The petition must be submitted by the company (not the employee)

Employee Requirements:
The employee need to possess the following

Specialized skill
Ability to Speak and read English
A Bachelor Degree

Application Process of H1B Visa
Step 1: (only required for specialty occupation and fashion model petitions): Employer Submits LCA to DOL for certification. The employer must apply for and receive DOL certification of an LCA. For further information regarding LCA requirements and Doll's inert process, see the "Foreign Labor Certification, Department of Labor" link to the right.
Step 2: Employer Submits Completed Form I-129 to USCIS. The employer should file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the correct USCIS Service Center. Please see the "I-129 Direct Filing Chart" link on the right side of the page. The DOL-certified LCA must be submitted with the Form I-129 (only for specialty occupation and fashion models). See the instructions to the Form I-129 for additional filing requirements.
Step 3: Prospective Workers Outside the United States Apply for H1B Visa and/or Admission. Once the Form I-129 petition has been approved, the prospective H-1B worker who is outside the United States may apply with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad for an H-1B visa (if a visa is required). Regardless of whether a visa is required, the prospective H-1B worker must then apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for admission to the United States in H-1B classification.
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