H-1B is a non-immigrant work visa for highly skilled foreign professionals and graduates (“specialty occupation”) who having their employer’s sponsorship can have an opportunity to live and work in the USA for an extended period of time (usually up to 6 years) along with their family members (spouse and children under 21, which can apply to H-4 derivative visa). Unlike many other non-immigrant visas H1B is a ‘dual intent’ visa, i.e. an H1B holder can later apply for a green card and become a legal permanent resident (LPR).
“Specialty occupation” is defined as related to highly qualified knowledge in different fields included but not limited to IT, telecom, computing, biotechnology, engineering, chemistry, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and healthcare, education, finance, banking, marketing, advertising, sales, accounting, law, business, arts and others. A highly skilled foreign worker cannot apply for this visa himself. Only a US employer (petitioner) can file an H-1B petition in order to hire a foreign professional (beneficiary).
If an American employer fires an H1B visa holder who works for this employer before the visa expires, the company should pay the employee for the ticket back to his/her country of origin or foreign residence. On the other hand, if a foreign worker with H1B status quits, he or she have to find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status), apply for and be granted a change of status to another non-immigrant visa, or leave the USA.
The main H1B visa requirements are as follows:
1. Your US employer should petition on your behalf.
2. You should have a bachelor’s degree or higher in order to qualify for H1B visa and your job should require this level of education.
3. Your job should be in the area of your specialization according to your degree or diploma.
4. Your employer should pay you at least the same wage as to other workers of your profession or occupation with similar skills and experience in a given geographic area (prevailing wage or actual wage whichever is higher).
5. In most cases your application should be within an annual quota of H-1B visas. In general, there are 65,000 H1B visas available annually. However, there are certain exemptions from this numerical quota, or cap. For instance, the first 20,000 petitions for H-1B visas filed on behalf of those applicants who graduated from US colleges and universities with a master’s degree or higher are exempt from this numerical limit. In addition to that an applicant for H-1B visa would be exempt from the annual quota, if his or her petitioner is:
a. a higher education institution,
b. a non-profit research organization, or
c. a government research organization.
Articles on H-1B visa:
How to Expedite the Processing of Your Work Visa Petition?
How to Get an H1B Visa?