What is an H-1B visa?

An H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa which allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. A “specialty occupation” is defined as one that requires theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge in a field such as: biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts. It further requires a minimum educational level of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Similarly, if a license is required to practice in the worker’s particular field then the worker must also obtain the required state license.

To obtain an H-1B visa, there must be a job offer and an employer who is willing to sponsor a person by filing a petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (“USCIS”). The H-1B work visa requires a sponsoring U.S. employer; the sponsor must file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor. The H-1B employer must then file an I-129 petition with the USCIS. A person may hold H-1B status for a maximum of six years, and it may be issued in increments of up to three years by the USCIS.

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