Working on an H1B Visa

The H1B Visa is a temporary work visa given to foreign workers so they can work in the United States for a specified period of time in specialty occupations. The United States Department of States defines a specialty occupation as "requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including, but not limited to architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, biotechnology, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent as a minimum (with the exception of fashion models, who must be "of distinguished merit and ability")."

Duration of Stay:

The duration of the stay allowed by the H1B Visa is three years but it can be extended to at most six years per visa. An exception to maximum length of stay can be applied in only two circumstances. Those two circumstances are a one year extension if a labor certification application has been filed and is pending for 365 days and for a three year extension if an I-140 Form has been approved. The United States Federal Government currently issues only 65,000 H1B Visas on an annual basis and no more. The government raised the number to 195,000 in fiscal year 2001, fiscal year 2002, and fiscal year 2003. H1B non-immigrant workers that work for non-profit organizations and universities are not included in the 65,000 annual visas that are approved. On a side note, visa renewals do not count towards the annual number of H1B limits applied.

New Provisions in Immigration Bill 2611:

The United States Senate approved changes to the number of H1B Visas that are approved each year. The new bill is immigration bill 2611.

  • Adding 20,000 visas for those with foreign graduate degrees
  • Adding 6,800 Visas for trade agreements seperate from the base quota
  • Raising from 20,000 to unlimited the number of visas for those with U.S. graduate degrees
  • Making visas to non-profit organizations exempt from the quota
  • Automatically increasing the base quota by 20% whenever itis reached with no provision for lowering it
  • Raising the Basic Quota from 65,000 to 115,000

The H1B is the most popular and most sought after work visa in the United States today even though the United States government requires every foreigner to apply for a work visa if they wish to work within the United States. The most important part of the H1B Visa is that it is a dual intent visa. This means that anyone with an H1B Visa can apply for a green card which gives people the opportunity to live in the United States under Legal Permanent Residency. For a foreign worker to obtain an H1B Visa they must first find an H1B Sponsorship Job with a United States Sponsoring Company. The Sponsoring Company is the employer. Second, the worker will need to have their employer file an H1B Visa application with the United States Immigration Bureau. An individual is not legally allowed to apply for their own H1B Visa or sponsor themselves.

If you are in need of legal assistance, consult with an Immigration Attorney in your area to receive a free case review.

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