H1B Visa Information

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What is an H1B?
The H1B is a popular visa for foreign workers who wish to be employed by a U.S employer.

Who is eligible to obtain an H1B?
Under the H1B Specialty Occupation rules you must have a 4-year college degree or its equivalent. So, then, if you don’t already have a four-year degree, what is its equivalent? Generally, H1B rules require three years experience as being equivalent to one year of college—but the experience must have some relationship to the degree or field of study required for the job you are seeking.

For example, according to the H1B rules, you need a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent) but, the position you are seeking must me one that requires a degree or some specialized experience. But you can still qualify with experience alone, so long as you meet all other H1-B visa specialty occupation requirements.

What is a Specialty Occupation?
A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts are specialty occupations. (And, there are others)

For how long is the H1-B Visa valid?
The term is for 3 years renewal for up to 6 years. Or longer when:

  • 365 days or more have passed since the filing of any application for labor certification, Form ETA 750, that is required or used by the alien to obtain status as an EB immigrant, or
  • 365 days or more have passed since the filing of an EB immigrant petition.

H1B Quotas and Limits
Currently the law limits to 65,000 the number of aliens who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H1B status. The quota does not apply to renewals and certain other applicants.

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H1B Employers
You must find a sponsoring U.S. employer. The employer must file a labor condition application (LCA) and assure that you will be paid at the prevailing wage for your position.

Changing Employers
So long as you continue to provide H1B services for a U.S. employer, most changes will not mean that an alien is out of status. You may change H-1B employers without affecting status, but the new H-1B employer must file for you before you begin working for the new employer. The merger or sale of an H1B employer’s business will not affect the alien’s status in many instances. However, if the change means that the alien is working in a capacity other than the specialty occupation for which they petitioned, it is a status violation.

Must you be working at all times?
As long as your H1B employer/employee relationship exists, you are still in status. You may work in full or part-time employment and remain in status. You may also be on vacation, sick/maternity/paternity leave, on strike, or otherwise inactive without affecting your status.

Dual Intent: Can you get a green card wit an H1B Visa?
Yes, you can be the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition, apply for adjustment of status, or take other steps toward Lawful Permanent Resident status without affecting your H1B status. This is known as "dual intent" and has been recognized in the immigration law since passage of the Immigration Act of 1990. During the time that the application for LPR status is pending, you may travel on your H1B visa rather than obtaining advance parole or requesting other advance permission from Immigration to return to the U.S.

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