The H-1B work visa allows foreign workers in specialty occupations to live and work in the U.S. for three to six years if working for a sponsoring employer. It is a non-immigrant visa, but you have the option of applying for a Green Card while you are here on an H-1B visa. Your spouse and children can join you while you are here on an H-1B visa. If you believe that an H-1B visa may be right for you, or if you are an employer seeking H-1B status for a potential employee, the immigration lawyers of the Chávez Law Group can help you through the complex application process.
Who Qualifies and Who Must Apply
H-1B work visas are for foreign workers in specialty occupations. This generally means that a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent is required. Examples of occupations which qualify under H-1B include:
- Teachers and professors
- Healthcare workers
- Writers and editors
- IT professionals
- Commercial artists
- Fashion models
You cannot apply for an H-1B visa on your own behalf. Your sponsoring U.S. employer must apply for you. An employer must submit a labor condition application (LCA) to the Department of Labor (DOL) for certification, and include this certified document as part of the H-1B petition.
Caps and Timing
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting H-1B visa applications six months prior to the date when they will become effective. This generally means the beginning of the fiscal year (FY). FY 2014 begins on October 1, 2013. So, the USCIS begins accepting H-1B applications for FY 2014 on April 1, 2013.
There is a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per year for most types of applicants, but there are some exceptions. Once the quota is filled, no more applications are accepted that year. The slots fill up quickly, so you want to file your petition as soon as the USCIS begins accepting applications. That means you need to get an early start preparing all of the materials needed for an H-1B visa petition.
Your Spouse and Children
If you are granted an H-1B visa, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 will receive H-4 visas which allow them to join you in the U.S. With an H-4 visa they can go to school, get a driver’s license, and open a bank account, but they cannot work.
If you are interested in obtaining an H-1B work visa or need more information, please contact the immigration lawyers of the Chávez Law Group, today, or submit our online questionnaire.