What is an H-1B Visa?
AN H-1B is an employment based visa that allows a person to work in the United States legally for a three-year period. It can also be extended to a maximum of six years and can go beyond 6 years if the “green card” process has initiated within a certain time.
Who can apply for an H-1B Visa?
The visa is designed for “Specialty Occupations” that require a bachelor’s degree. Education and work experience combinations can be used as well as long as a bachelors degree is the end equivalency. Jobs like doctors, lawyers, engineers, researchers, and computer specialists, among many others, are popular candidates. There are a maximum of 65,000 visas available for jobs requiring bachelor’s degrees and 20,000 for US graduate degree holders. Some educational and research institutions are exempt from this cap, so the actual number of visas issued is always greater than 85,000. Universities are exempt from the cap and so are not for profit entities that are affiliated to an institute of higher education.
How to apply for an H-1B Visa?
The application for each fiscal year, beginning October 1st, opens on the first business day of April. For the past several years, there have been some 200,000 applications for those limited slots, so the quota is usually reached within a matter of days. Therefore, it is important to have a definite sense of urgency about the application and work quickly.
In order to make sure that foreign workers are not undercutting US workers, the Department of Labor requires that the H-1B holder be paid the prevailing wage for that job in that area. It also requires that good working conditions are provided. This is called the Labor Condition Application. Applicants should make sure this is ready in March so that you can file the H-1B quickly on April 1.
Next, the employer will need to file an I-129 application in order to apply for an H1-B. This will be be accompanied by additional supporting documents, such as information about the company that is sponsoring the worker.
Is it possible to get a Green Card?
The H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa, so a worker cannot go directly to a Green Card. However, the H-1B is a “dual-intent” category. This means that a worker can hold this nonimmigrant visa while also applying for a Green Card through another application. In short, the H-1B is an indirect stepping-stone to a Green Card.