(Cleveland, Ohio – February 21, 2014) The H-1B nonimmigrant visa is a popular visa for individuals seeking employment in the United States. The H-1B visa allows an individual to remain in the United States temporarily for a period of three years at a time for up to six years. There are instances where the visa can be extended beyond the six year limitation such as when an individual seeks adjustment of status through a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. Extensions are best filed six months before the expiration date of the H-1B visa. This gives an individual ample time if any issues arise.
An H-1B visa is for individuals who will perform services in a specialty occupation and who meet the requirements for the occupation. An example of a specialty occupation is an engineer. A specialty occupation is defined as an occupation that requires highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty. The requirements for the occupation may be met through a state license to practice the occupation if applicable, completion of the minimum degree required, or experience equivalent to the completion of the degree. A foreign degree can meet the requirement for the occupation if it is at least equivalent to the minimum degree.
Experience can also be substituted for the degree. For example, every three years of specialized experience is equivalent to one year of college level education. However, if a Master’s degree is the minimum requirement then a bachelor’s degree must be obtained with five years or more of experience.
The process for an H-1B visa is first started by the employer. A Labor Condition Application (LCA) is completed on Form ETA-9035 and filed with the Department of Labor (DOL). DOL then issues a certification that the LCA has been filed. This takes approximately seven days. The purpose of the LCA is to ensure that the employer will comply with certain requirements such as paying the prevailing wage. The prevailing wage is the wage given to a majority of individuals working in that position.
The LCA is submitted with Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, the H Classification Supplement, the H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement, appropriate filing fees, and documents in support of the petition. A decision on the petition is made usually between two to four months from the date the employer files the complete H-1B package to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If the individual is residing abroad, then the petition is forwarded to the consulate where the individual schedules an interview. This individual must also complete Form DS-160 and follow the instructions set forth by the U.S. Consulate or Embassy where the petition was forwarded. The H-1B process can be complex; however, you can be rewarded with a visa that allows you to work and have the dual intention to permanently live in the United States.
Mudassir Hussain, Esq., Immigration Attorney, Margaret W. Wong & Associates Co., LPA