H-1B: Specialty Occupation – Professional Worker

The H-1B visa category is available to individuals employed in the US in a “specialty occupation.” A specialty occupation requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized field of knowledge as a minimum for entry into the occupation. Some specialty occupations include but are not limited to: accounting, engineering, law, architecture, scientific research and many other job types.

An H-1B visa requires a valid offer of employment from a U.S. employer, the employer must be willing to pay a “prevailing wage” as determined by the Department of Labor, the occupation must require a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized field of knowledge as a minimum qualification and, the foreign national must have the required degree, or its foreign equivalent.

H-1B visas are valid for 3 years and may be extended to a total of 6 years. In certain circumstances, H-1B visa holders may extend their status beyond the 6 years. For example, if the H1B visa holder is currently a beneficiary of an I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker pending based on an offer of future employment, pursuant to an approved Labor Certification from the Department of Labor, the H1B may be extended for a 7th year. If the I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker has been approved, than H-1B status may be extended for up to 3 additional years creating the possibility of 10 years of H1B status.

H-1B workers who lose their jobs must either find another employer to petition on their behalf, change to a different immigration status or return to their home country. A spouse or unmarried child of a person with H-1B visa status may obtain an H-4 visa. Individuals with H-4 visa status cannot work in the United States, but may attend school. Under current law, there is an annual limit of 65,000 aliens who may be issued H-1B status but up to 20,000 additional H-1B slots are available to graduates of US masters degree (or higher) programs and there are some types of jobs that are exempt from the H-1B cap. H1B visas become available upon the beginning of the fiscal year which is October 1 of the current year.

Please feel free to contact us, if you have any further questions regarding you legal residency, immigration or visa status and process. We will be happy to assist you.

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