The H-1B visa enables employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation is one that requires the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
How long is the period of stay for H-1B visa holders?
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). The time an H-1B visa holder spends outside the U.S. does not count against the six-year limit, as foreign workers are permitted to recapture time spent abroad while their H-1B status is valid.
What is H-1B Cap?
The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit "cap" of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Additionally, H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to this numerical cap.
On 1/31/2019, USCIS published the final rule revising the H-1B cap procedures. The final rule will reverse the order by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, and it introduces an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Effective 04/01/ 2019, USCIS will first select H-1B petitions (or registrations, once the registration requirement is implemented) submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will then select from the remaining eligible petitions, a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption. Changing the order in which USCIS counts these allocations will likely increase the number of petitions for beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected under the H-1B numerical allocations.
What kind of job will meet the requirements of H-1B?
The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:
Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.
What qualifications the beneficiary (foreign worker) must have in order to qualify for H-1B?
For you to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:
Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation
Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.