Highly prized, the H-1B visa allows professional foreign nationals to work in the United States for a specific period of time in a specialty occupation, which includes theology, the arts, engineering, mathematics, education, law, physical and social sciences, architecture, and business specialties. There are also other sub-categories within H-1B that allow professionals to work in the U.S. on projects that meets DOD’s cooperate, research and development standards or as fashion models.
The foreign national must have highly specialized knowledge for which the foreign national received at least a bachelor’s degree, though some occupations may require an advance degree. Years of relevant experience may be substituted for the bachelor’s degree.
Foreign nationals cannot self-sponsor. The foreign national must first find a U.S. employer that is willing to be a sponsor – has offered employment. The employer must then file a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor. The employer must attest to several factors in the Application, such as (a) it has given notice of the filing to the foreign national, (b) it has provided the foreign national with a copy of the Application prior to the employment start date, and (c) the source for determining the prevailing wage. The U.S. employer must also submit the petition to USCIS on behalf of the foreign national.
The initial grant of stay for the H-1B visa holder is 3 years, with the maximum stay of 6 years. There are exceptions to the 6 year rule.
The HB-1 visa holder’s spouse and unmarried dependents are able to gain admission to the U.S. in a H-4 status for the same period of stay as the primary visa holder.