H-1B Visa Guide
H-1B visas are for foreign-born professionals with offers of employment in the U.S. Over the past 30 years, our law firm has obtained H-1B visas for thousands of accountants, architects, attorneys, business professionals, computer programmers, engineers, health care workers, physicians, researchers, system analysts and other professional employees.
To be eligible for H-1B status, you must (1) have a minimum of a four-year university degree or equivalent; (2) be paid at the “prevailing wage”; and (3) the job must typically require a minimum four-year university degree or equivalent.
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H-1B visas are subject to a numerical cap of 65,000 per fiscal year. In addition, 20,000 persons who obtain advanced degrees from universities in the U.S. have their own H-1B cap. Up to 6,800 H-1B visas are reserved for persons who are citizens of Chile and Singapore.
Cap-subject employers should prepare their H-1B petitions during February and March, and submit them so that the USCIS will receive the petitions at the beginning of April. Persons on whose behalf H-1B petitions are approved may start employment on October 1st. However, there are special rules for graduates working on Optional Practical Training (OPT) which enable them to continue working for their employers during the spring and summer and automatically change their status to H-1B on October 1st.
Certain H-1Bs petitions are exempt from the numerical caps including employment “at” universities, at “affiliated” or “related” organizations or at non-profit or governmental research institutions.
H-1B visas are typically valid for 3 years and can easily be extended for an additional 3 years. If a PERM application or an I-140 visa petition has been submitted in a timely fashion, post-6th year extensions of H-1B status are possible. We recommend that you extend your H-1B status until the day that you become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
As of May 26, 2015, certain H-4 spouses of H-1B professionals will be eligible to apply for work permits (EADs).
We hope that the information listed below will help you to obtain an H-1B visa, or, if you are an employer, to understand how to sponsor foreign-born professionals for H-1B status.
The H-1B Visa Guide is divided into the following subtopics:
- General Information
- Success Stories
- American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC-21)
- Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence
- American Competitiveness Act (ACWIA) and Regulations
H-1B VISAS: GENERAL INFORMATION
- 233,000 H-1B Petitions Received, Lottery Over (4-13-14)
- H-1B Cap Reached (4-07-15)
- International Medical Graduates and the “H-1B Lottery” (3-11-15)
- DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants Seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence (USCIS) (2-24-15)
- H-1B Filing Tips (USCIS) (October 2014)
- Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses: Proposed Regulation (5-12-14)
- White House Response to Petition Allowing Employment Authorization for H-4 Dependent Spouses
- 172,500 H-1B Petitions Filed: Lottery is Over (4-10-14)
- USCIS Reaches FY 2015 H-1B Cap (4-7-14)
- H-1B Fiscal Year 2015 Cap Season (USCIS)
- USCIS to Begin Premium Processing of H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions by April 28, 2014 (3-25-14)
- H-1B Cap Update (Fiscal Year 2014)
- U.S. Firms Say H-1B Restrictions May Help Them (4-19-13)
- USCIS Reaches Fiscal Year 2014 H-1B Cap (USCIS) (4-8-13)
- H-1B Examination: Test Your Immigration IQ
- New H-1B Law FAQ
- H-1B Cap Update (Fiscal Year 2013)
- Q&As: Establishing the “Employee-Employer Relationship” in H-1B Petitions (USCIS) (3-12-12)
- Exemption from the H-1B Visa Cap
H-1B Visa Success Stories
- Getting an H-1B Approved for a Remote Worker (March 2012)
- Avoiding the H-1B Cap with a Little Help from the USCIS (August 2009)
American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC-21)
- FAQ on “Same or Similar Occupation” under AC-21 (USCIS)
- FAQ on Extension of OPT and F-1 Status for Eligible Students (USCIS)
- Supplemental Guidance Relating to AC-21 (5-30-08)
- Interim Guidance for Processing Form I-140 EB Immigrant Petitions And Form I-485 and H-1B Petitions under AC-21 (5-12-05)
- INS Adopts “Alien-Based” Approach to Portability (4-24-02)
- Initial Guidance for Processing H-1B Petitions as Affected by AC-21 (INS) (6-19-01)
- Traveling During H-1B Portability Period (State Department) (2-14-01)
- AC-21: INS FAQ
- New H-1B Law FAQ (AILA)
- Section-by-Section Analysis of the H-1B Cap Bill As Passed By Congress (10-3-00)
- Summary of H-1B Cap Bill As Passed By Congress (10-3-00)
- Text of the Bill To Raise the H-1B Fee to $1,000 (10-12-00)
ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS For H & L Visaholders
- INS Field Memo on Adjustment of Status for H and L Visaholders (May 2000)
- H and L Regulations on Adjustment of Status (6-1-99)
AMERICAN COMPETITIVENESS ACT (ACWIA)
- ACWIA (1998) – Complete Text of Law
- ACWIA – Section-by-Section Summary of Law
- ACWIA – Highlights of the Law
- ACWIA – Senate Report
- Report of the Senate Judiciary Committee on S.1723
- ITAA Calls on Congress to Raise Cap for Temporary Workers
- H-1B Regulations: AILA Summary of Provisions of General Applicability
- H-1B Regulations: AILA Summary Of Provisions Relating To “H-1B Dependent” Employees
- DOL Letter Re: “Single Employer” Rule (2-21-01)
- Letter From Senators Abraham and Graham In Response To DOL’s Interim H-1B Regulations (1-1-01)