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How to apply for an H1-B Specialty Work Visa for the United States

On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the H1-B work visa scheme in the United States, the requirements which must be met, and the application process. For expert assistance with your immigration matter, contact Reiss Edwards, immigration lawyers and solicitors in London, on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk

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With the world’s largest economy, which is estimated to reach over $25 trillion in 2024, the United States offers a substantial amount for foreign nationals seeking to further their careers, and this is especially so for those in in-demand speciality professions. On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the H1-B work visa scheme in the United States, the requirements which must be met, and the application process.

What is the H1-B visa for the United States?

The non-immigrant H1-B work visa in the United States (US) is designed to enable US businesses to recruit foreign nationals with graduate-level qualifications in specialty occupations. Technically the scope of the H1-B visa extends beyond just specialty workers and includes those working in “services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability”. The H1-B visa is typically granted to those who specialize in fields such as architecture, the arts, finance, engineering, science, and medicine. The H1-B visa is subject to a cap of 65,000 places for each fiscal year.

Who Qualifies for An H1-B Visa in the US?

The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) publishes a detailed list of the eligibility criteria which must be met to secure an H1-B visa. These are broken down into:

  • H-1B Specialty Occupations
  • H-1B2 DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker
  • H-1B3 Fashion Model

To make an application under the H1-B specialty occupation route, applicants must have an occupation that requires the:

  • Theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and
  • Attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

The role in the US for which the applicant requires a visa must also meet one of the following:

  • Require a bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent as a minimum entry requirement
  • Be in an industry in which a degree is typically required in similar roles
  • Be 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 role

Applicants need to hold either a US bachelor or higher degree, a foreign bachelor or higher degree, or hold “unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes you to fully practise the specialty occupation and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment”.

Where an applicant does not have a degree or higher, they may still be able to apply if they can show they have undergone other education, specialist training, or they have gained experience equivalent to a degree through their occupation.

How Do I Apply for An H1-B Visa?

Applicants considering the H1-B visa need to complete the online electronic registration process. The information entered when registering is then used by USCIS to determine how the applicant is subject to the cap on H1-B visas.

To submit an H-1B registration, you must first create a USCIS online account and then follow the registration process. The latest information provided by the USCIS states, “The initial registration period for FY 2022 will open at noon Eastern Time (ET) on March 9 and run through noon ET on March 25. Both representatives and registrants must wait until March 9 to create and complete H-1B registrations”.

A fee of $10 is payable for each H1-B registration.

The USCIS then reviews all registrations and selects the most suitable to proceed to the next stage. Selected registrants will be notified, after which the US employer can complete the petition process. This involves the employer filing for a Department of Labour (DOL) certification of a Labour Condition Application (LCA) and filing a Form I-129) Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) with the USCIS. The prospective worker can then apply for a visa once the I-129 form is approved.

How Long Can I Stay in The US On an H1-B Visa?

Successful applicants are typically permitted to stay in the US for up to three years. The USCIS states that this can be extended but not beyond a period of six years. It is also important to note that despite the fact that the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, is classed as a dual intent immigration route. The immigration rules state, “Non-immigrants in H-1B or L-1 status can be the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition, apply for adjustment of status, or take other steps toward Lawful Permanent Resident status without affecting their status. This is known as “dual intent” and has been recognized in immigration law since passage of the Immigration Act of 1990”. In practical terms, this means H-1B visa holders are able to apply for a Green Card while in the US.

Can I Bring My Family Members with Me to the US?
Yes, H1-B visa holders in the US can bring their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years with them to the US. To do so, the family members need to apply for permission to use the H-4 non-immigrant route. H-4 Visa holders are permitted to stay in the US with the H1-B visa holder, as long as the latter retain their legal status. H-4 visa holders can attend school, apply for a US driving license, open a bank account, and in certain cases, dependant spouses can seek employment authorization by completing and filing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).

Reiss Edwards have the resources and expertise to assist with all aspects of US immigration. If you need assistance with your H1-B visa application for the US or any other immigration matter, feel free to contact our Immigration Solicitors.

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O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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