Non-immigrant Visas – H-1B

B-1/B-2 E-1 E-2 F-1 H-1B J-1 K-1/K-3 L-1 M-1 O-1 P-1 R-1 TN


(1) Overview
The H-1B visa is for those who have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized field to work in a professional field such as IT, finance, or engineering. The number of H-1B visas that can be issued each year is capped (65,000 new visas each fiscal year), except for workers in specific organizations such as government or non-profit organizations. An additional 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education are exempt from the cap. Visa applications are usually given a 3 year period, which can be extended for an additional 3 years. If the H-1B holder is in the process of obtaining permanent residency through employment immigration, an extension beyond the 6 year period may be possible.

H-1B employees may work for multiple employers as long as they file a petition with USCIS, and there is no set number of hours an H-1B holder must work for each employer. Spouses or minor children under the age of 21 of H-1B holders generally will have H-4 status. Certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants can file for employment authorization as long as the H-1B nonimmigrant has already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status.

(2) Qualifications
Employers must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) certified by the Department of Labor (DOL) to hire foreign workers who qualify for specialization in a specific field. Foreign applicants must have appropriate qualifications for their occupation and employment position, and there must be a clear employer and employee relationship between the applicant and the petitioning employer. For occupations covered by a visa assignment, the H-1B assignment must be in effect at the time the petition is filed by the employer with USCIS.

Foreign nationals working in the United States on an H-1B may change jobs if the new employer files the H-1B change of employer on their behalf. However, the 6 year limit for H-1B status will still apply.