H Visa Category
H-1B classification applies to persons in a specialty occupation which requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge requiring completion of a specific course of higher education.
H-1B Visa Requirements:
The job offered must be filed as a “specialty occupation.” A specialty occupation orders for a bachelor’s degree or an advanced level of education certification. There are distinct positions that may not mandate a bachelor’s degree due to the complexity or particular listed duties. However, most positions categorized under ‘professional’ require a bachelor’s degree.
Examples of qualified standard positions: engineers, professors, researchers, medical, accountants, attorneys, and architects.
The bachelor’s or advanced degree must originate from an accredited university or college. The degree is required to relate to the H-1B specialty position. If the degree was obtained outside the United States, it must be equivalent to an available U.S. degree.
Work experience is not a pre-requisite if holding a bachelor’s degree. Education requirements may be substituted with at work experience. The general rule for amount of accepted work experience: 1 year required of University = 3 years of work experience.
U.S. Employer Requirements
It is required to have the funds necessary to pay the foreign professional. The employer must provide an official job offer. An official job offer signifies that documented evidence can be presented to show a true business need.
Every fiscal year, the H-1B visa is limited by an annual cap of 65,000 visas. However, there are some applicants that are exempt from the cap. Beneficiaries with a U.S. masters degree or higher are exempt from the cap if it is filed among the first 20,000 petitions available. Also, if the H-1B worker is employed or petitioned on behalf of an institute of higher education it is not subject to the H-1B cap. Related nonprofit entities, nonprofit research, and government research organizations are H-1B cap-exempt.
The spouse and unmarried children of the H-1B visa holder have the option of admission through the H-4 visa. However, members on the H-4 visa are not authorized to work in the United States.
H1B Period of Stay
As an H-1B nonimmigrant, you may be admitted for a period of up to three years. Your time period may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years, though some exceptions do apply under sections 104(c) and 106(a) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21).
Other H Visa Classifications
H-1B1 classification applies to citizens of Singapore or Chile. There are some special requirements.
H-1C classification is for nurses who wishes to work in health professional shortage areas. Only 500 H1C visas are granted annually and it is reserved only for about 14 eligible hospitals in the US. The visa is valid for three years and cannot be extended.
H-2A classification applies to temporary or seasonal agricultural workers;
H-2B classification applies to temporary or seasonal nonagricultural workers. This classification requires a temporary labor certification issued by the Secretary of Labor (66,000);
H-3 classification applies to trainees other than medical or academic. This classification also applies to practical training in the education of handicapped children;