H-1B Non-Immigrant Worker Visa for Professionals
H-1B visa, or Person in Specialty Occupation visa, is a nonimmigrant visa for professionals who seek specialty jobs in the US. H1-B visa requires visa applicants that they have a higher education degree or its equivalent. This entails bachelors or higher degrees such as MA’s or Ph.D.
- The applicant must have a bona fide employer and a job offer. The employer will also act as his/her sponsor for your visa application.
- The applicant must have at least a bachelor’s or its equivalent degree in a specific field.
Spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of the H1-B visa holder can apply for H-4 (Dependent visa) for the duration of the H1-B visa.
Is there a cap on H1-B Visa?
Unfortunately, yes. The current number per fiscal year is 65.000. However, if you are a master’s or higher degree graduate of a U.S. institution, there is an extra 20.000 quota for you. And if your sponsor is a higher education institution, a nonprofit organization working under a higher education institution, or a government research initiative, the visa cap rule does not apply.
What is the duration of H1-B Visa?
H1-B visa duration varies from applicant to applicant. However, you can be issued a visa valid for up to three years.
Can I get an extension?
Yes, you can. Your stay may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond of a total of six years. But there are some exceptions to this rule when there is an ongoing green card application. For further information please see this H-1B page by the USCIS
Which professionals can apply for H1-B Visa?
You can apply H1-B visa coming from numerable professional work fields including but not limited to IT, architecture, law, finance, and medicine. Please discuss with your attorney to learn more possible positions based on your academic and professional background.
Can I travel in and out of the U.S. when on H1-B Visa?
Yes. As long as your visa is valid, there is no legal obstacle to prevent you from traveling in and out of the U.S.
Can I change my H1-B status to the permanent resident? (H1-B to Green Card)
Yes, if your employer is willing to sponsor for you. There are also some advantages of being in H-1B status as being on payroll and having a dual intent visa.
Can I transfer from one employer to another?
Yes. H-1B transfer applications are not subject to quota and you can apply for H-1B transfer when you find a qualified job offer from new employer.
H-2B Non-Agricultural Worker Visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa issued to individuals to fill in temporary job openings in the United States. H-2B Visa requires a U.S. employer or an agent to petition for the worker.
- Must have an available employment position which can be seasonal, intermittent, peak load, or one-time
- Must ensure that the employment duration cannot exceed 1 year
- Must prove that no U.S. citizen worker is available or qualified for the employment
- Must have a valid job offer from a U.S. employer or an agent.
- Must be qualified to undertake the employment
- Must return to his/her home country before or after their visa expires
Spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of the H-2B visa holders can apply for H-4 (Dependent Visa) for the duration of the H-2B Visa.
Is there a cap on H-2B Visa?
Yes. The annual cap for H-2B Visa is currently 66.000. Half of this cap is slated for the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31), and another half is slated for the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 – September 30). However, you may be eligible for exemption from the cap. To see whether you can be exempted from the H-2B Visa cap, please see Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants
What is the duration of H-2B Visa?
The duration of H-2B Visa depends on the time authorized on the temporary labor certification. You should contact your employer to learn about your lawful period of stay.
Can I get an extension?
Extensions can be granted in increments up to a year. However, extensions are not limitless, and your total period of stay on H-2B status cannot exceed 3 years.
Can my family work in the U.S.?
Your family cannot work in the U.S. while on H-4 status as dependents.
Is my home country eligible to apply from?
Nationals of certain countries unfortunately are not eligible to apply for an H-2B visa. Only designated countries are eligible for temporary worker transfer. To see if your country is eligible to apply from or not, please see Countries Eligible for H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs.
What do seasonal, intermittent, peak load, and one-time employments mean?
- Seasonal is a type of temporary employment that becomes available only in certain periods of the year
- Intermittent is a type of temporary employment that employs workers periodically and for only short-time works
- Peak load is a type of temporary employment that employs additional staff along with permanent staff to meet the rising supply demand
- One-time is a type of temporary employment that becomes available for temporary workers once. This requires that the employer must not have employed temporary workers before and will not employ them later in the future.
H-1B1 Visa is similar to the H-1B visa in being a type of temporary non-immigrant worker visa. However, per the treaty finalized between U.S.- Chile, and U.S.- Singapore on January 1 – 2004, H-1B1 is available only to the citizens of Chileans and Singaporeans.
- There must be a bona fide job offer from a U.S employer.
- The offered position must be a specialty occupation that requires special ability and knowledge of the field you will be working in.
- As this is a specialty occupation visa, the applicant must hold at least a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent in a specific field. Work experience in the related field might be considered equal to a bachelor’s degree.
Spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of the H1-B1 visa holders can apply for H-4 (Dependent visa) for the duration of the H1-B1 visa.
Is there a cap on H-1B1 Visa?
Unfortunately, yes. The current visa cap for Chileans stands at 1.400 and 5.400 for Singaporeans.
What types of employment fields are eligible to apply for H-1B1 Visa?
There are various fields with which you can be eligible for H-1B1 Visa. They include engineering, science, medicine, health care, agriculture, technology, education, and many special business occupations such as human resources. We always advise to reach an Immigration Attorney to discuss if your occupation is qualified for H-1B1 visa.
What is the duration of an H-1B1 Visa?
Your maximum stay of duration can be only one year, and it can be extended with one-year increments without any limit.
Is H-1B1 Visa a ‘dual intent’ visa?
Unfortunately, no. This means that having a permanent residency (Green Card) application would be a bar for applying or extending H-1B1 visa.
Should Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, must be filed by the USCIS?
No. Unlike H-1B visa, there is no need to file a petition with USCIS in this process. You just need to bring an approved LCA to the consulate interview.
H-3 Visa is designed for individuals who seek training in the U.S. for their aspired professions in the future. There are two ways which you can apply for an H-3 Visa:
- As a Trainee who can be eligible for every training related to their future professions except graduate medical training
- Or as a Special Education Exchange Visitor who can only be eligible for training in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities
Beware that this is NOT an employment visa, but a training visa that will lead to employment in the future outside of the United States.
For trainees and special education exchange visitors,
- The trainee candidate must be invited by an individual or organizational sponsor in the U.S.
- The to-be-attended training must not be available in his/her home country
- The trainee must not be placed in a position where his/her training might interfere with the usual operation of the business, and where U.S. citizen and resident workers are employed
- The trainee must not seek productive employment in the U.S. unless the employment is essential to the training program
- The training must equip the trainee with the necessary gains to enable him/her to find employment outside of the U.S.
For only special education exchange visitors,
- The exchange visitor must have a baccalaureate or higher degree program in his/her area of special education expertise or must be expecting to complete them soon
- If the exchange visitor does not have a baccalaureate or higher degree diploma, then he/she must provide other prior training and teaching experience(s) with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities children
Spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of H-3 visa holders can apply for H-4 (Dependent visa) for the duration of the H-3 visa.
Is there a cap on H-3 Visa?
There is for individuals applying for H-3 Visa through special education exchange visitors, and the number of people admitted to the exchange visitor category is currently 50.
What is the duration of H-3 Visa?
The maximum of stay for trainees is 2, and special education exchange visitors is 1.5 years.
Can my family work in the U.S. while on H-4 status?
No. Your family accompanying you as dependents cannot seek employment in the U.S. on H-4 status.
Can my family study in the U.S. while on H-4 status?
Yes. Full-time study of children and part-time study of spouses is allowed.
What does productive employment mean?
Productive employment is defined as the ‘employment producing enough income to support the worker and his/her dependents, and consequently raising them above the poverty line’. Simply, your training-related employment on H-3 cannot generate an income of living, therefore can only be utilized as an additional source of finance.
What type of fields can be eligible for training?
The eligible fields of training are many. Some fields including but not limited to:
R-1 Visa is a type of temporary nonimmigrant worker visa issued to individuals who seek to serve in a religious capacity in the U.S.
- The applicant must be employed by a religious organization or an organization that is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States. Organizations must be doing solely non-profit work
- The applicant must be a member of the religious denomination for which s/he plan to work in the U.S. for at least 2 years
- Employment must be at least part-time which means working at least 20 hours per week
- The applicant must be employed either as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation. Workers involved in nonreligious works such as event management, maintenance, and fundraising do not qualify for R-1 Visa.
Spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of the R-1 Visa holders can apply for R-2 (Dependent visa) for the duration of the R-1 visa.
What is the duration of R-1 Visa?
Your initial stay can be a maximum of 30 months. The maximum stay on an R-1 Visa cannot exceed 60 months.
Can I get an extension?
Yes! Extensions are granted in increments up to 30 months.
Can my family work in the U.S.?
No. Family members are not permitted to work on R-1 status.
Can I apply for a Green Card as a religious worker?
Yes! The fourth preference of the Green Card-through employment category allows religious workers to seek permanent residency as special immigrants. To learn more about the issue, please see Fourth Preference Employment-based Immigration.
What does minister worker mean?
A Minister worker is an authorized person by religious domination to undertake and oversee religious activities of the religious organization. Ministers cannot only be priests, imams, and rabbis, but also Buddhist monks, ordained deacons, etc.
What types of work can be considered ‘religious vocation’ or ‘religious occupation’?
Religious vocation or religious occupation entails non-clergy works. This comprises works that are essential to the traditional function of the religious organization such as liturgy, religious counseling, religious translation, religious health care, etc.
How Green Card through religious work is different from R-1, Religious Worker Visa?
The requirements for both Green Card and R-1 Visa are almost identical with one minor but critical difference. While the Green Card application requires you to have worked for at least 2 continuous years in religious domination, R-1 Visa only requires you to be a member of the religious domination for the same amount.
L-1B, Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge, Visa is a sub-category of nonimmigrant employment L-1 Visa. It is issued to specialized knowledge individuals sponsored by U.S. employers to be transferred from companies’ foreign offices to the U.S. offices to live and work in the United States. L-1B Visa also allows a foreign company to transfer one of its specialized knowledge employees to the U.S. to establish a U.S. branch of the company.
- The company must have a qualifying relationship with a company doing business outside of the U.S.
- The company must have been or will be doing business in the U.S. and at least one another country via the company or its affiliated organizations for the duration of employees stay in the U.S.
- The applicant must have been working in the company or one of its affiliated organizations for at least one continuous year within the last 3 years before entering the U.S
- The applicant must be willing to provide his/her specialized knowledge in the qualifying organization with which s/he was sponsored
Spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of the L-1B Visa holders can apply for L-2 (Dependent visa) for the duration of the L-1B visa.
What is the duration of L-1B Visa?
For L-1B employees establishing new offices in the U.S. are granted a maximum of one year stay. Other transferee employees are granted a maximum of three years.
Can I get an extension?
All L-1B employees can be granted extensions in increments up to an additional two years. However, your total amount of stay cannot exceed five years.
Can my family work in the U.S. on L-1B Visa?
Spouses of L-1B employees can start working after getting approved on Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Are there additional requirements for employers sending employees to establish new offices in the U.S.?
Yes. There are two additional requirements for employers establishing new offices in the U.S. via an employee:
- The employer must provide and prove that it has the facility in the U.S. to manage the operations of the new office
- The employer must secure the livelihood of the employee in the U.S. as well as be able to financially sustain the new office
What do ‘doing business’ and ‘specialized knowledge’ mean?
is the regular, systematic, and continuous operation of goods and services managed and overseen by a qualifying organization. Having a mere entity with an office in the U.S. is not recognized as doing business.
is the knowledge of the employee about sponsoring and qualified organization’s service, product, research, techniques, management, etc., and its implementation in the related sector, or a progressed level of expertise concerning the organization’s processes and procedures.
E-3 Visa is a type of nonimmigrant worker visa that requires specialty occupation. It is almost identical to H1-B, Specialty Occupation Visa, except that E-3 is specifically designated for citizens of Australia.
- Applicant must be a national of Australia
- Applicant must have a valid job offer from a U.S. Employer,
- The offered position must be a specialty occupation
- The applicant must meet the necessary academic qualifying criteria (at least bachelors or higher degree)
Spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of E-3 Visa holders can apply for E-3 (Dependent Visa) as well for the duration of E-3 visa.
What is the duration of E-3 Visa?
The initial period of stay can be a maximum of two years.
Can I get an extension?
Yes! Visa extensions depend on the extensions granted on the Labor Certification Application (LCA) form, but cannot exceed a maximum of two years. Fortunately, there is no limit to the number of extensions you can be granted.
Can my family work?
Your spouse can be permitted to work if authorized after filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Is there a cap on E-3 Visa?
Yes. The cap currently stands at 10.500 per year. However, the cap usually is not reached.
Is E-3 a dual intent visa?
No. This means that applying permanent residency (Green Card) application would be a bar to apply or extend existing E-3 visa.
Can I change employer?
Yes. For this, your new employer must file a new Labor Certification Application (LCA) on your behalf together with Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
Can permanent residents of Australia apply for E-3 Visa?
No. You have to be a citizen of Australia to be eligible for an E-3 Visa.
Can I travel outside the U.S. while on E-3 Visa?
Yes. There is no limit to the number of times you can leave the U.S. while on E-3 visa.
Can work experience compensate for the fact that I don’t have a bachelor’s or higher degree?
Yes. Each year of a bachelor’s degree would be compensated by three years of work experience in your field of expertise. This means that 12 years of work experience would enable you to be eligible for an E-3 visa even if you do not have a bachelor’s or higher degree.
What is a specialty occupation?
Specialty occupation is broadly defined as works that require specialized knowledge and its professional implementation obtained through academic studies and practical experiences.
In addition to the requirement that you must have a bachelor’s or a higher degree, specialty occupation must also require complex work criteria that can only be met with a bachelor’s or a higher degree, or its equivalent work experience. This means that having any bachelor’s or higher degree is not sufficient, but your bachelor’s or higher degree must also relate to the work position you are offered in the United States. For more information on the eligible occupations, please see H-1B Specialty Occupations.
I Visa is a type of nonimmigrant worker visa for members of foreign media professionals who seek to undertake informative or educational media activities. Foreign media professionals include members of the press, film, radio, and print industries.
- If the applicant is a member of a foreign media, a freelance journalist, or an employee of an independent production company that is an affiliate of a media organization
- If the applicant is actively engaged in newsgathering activity
- If the applicant is a member of a film and video production company, work must be for a production that is not commercial, but informative or educational in nature
- If the applicant is an accredited employee of a tourist office, applicant must collect and promote factual touristic information on the United States
- If the applicant is an employee of a foreign organization that engages in the transfer of technical industrial information, applicant can be eligible for an I Visa if s/he will be employed in the U.S. office of the same foreign organization
Spouses and children under the age of 21 may accompany I Visa holders with I dependent Visa. They will be allowed the same amount of legal stay as the primary I Visa holders.
What is the duration of I Visa?
This depends on the fact that whether an end date is specified on your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, or not. If so, you will be authorized to stay as long as the end date on Form I-94 becomes current. If there is no end date on your Form I-94, you are entitled to work permission given that you continue working for the same employer in the same information medium.
Can I get an extension?
If your Form I-94 includes an end date on your authorized stay, you may seek extensions up to 90 days by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
Can my family work in the U.S.?
No. No family member is allowed to work in the U.S. on I Visa.
Can my family and I study in the U.S.?
Yes. You and your family can participate in non-academic studies without student visas such as F and M.
Can I change employers while on I Visa?
Yes. For this, you need to file Form I-539 together with supporting documents. They include the evidence of your current lawful nonimmigrant status and the letter from your new employer that describes your employment and states the fact that you will be working for the new media organization.