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Temporarily Working in the US on an H-1B Visa

Temporarily Working in the US on an H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows a foreign employee to live in the US on a temporary basis for work. An employer may file a petition for an H-1B visa to temporarily employ individuals who:

  • work in specialty occupations
  • will work with the Department of Defense on research and development projects
  • are fashion models of distinguished merit

Specialty Occupations

The H-1B is a popular option for employers as it allows them to temporarily hire foreign workers for long-term projects in specialty occupations. Specialty occupations include fields such as information technology, engineering, medicine, and science among others. To qualify as a specialty occupation, the job must meet one of the following requirements:

  • The job normally requires a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • The degree requirement is standard for the position, or the position is so complex that only an individual with a bachelor’s degree or higher can carry out the functions
  • The employer normally requires a degree for the position
  • The duties are so specialized and complex that specific knowledge is required to carry out the duties and that knowledge is obtained by earning a bachelor’s degree or higher

Submitting a Petition for an H-1B Visa

An individual cannot apply for the H-1B visa on his or her own; the employer must file a petition on the individual’s behalf. Employers can begin filing petitions for H-1B visas in April of each year, but cannot file a petition more than six months before the employment start date.

The United States Citizen and Immigration Services limits (or “caps”) the number of H-1B visa petitions it can accept per calendar year. Each year, that cap is set at 85,000 petitions: 65,000 for regular H1-B visas (for specialty occupation workers who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher) and 20,000 advanced degree H-1B visas (for specialty occupation workers who hold a master’s degree or higher).

Limits of Stay While on an H-1B Visa

A foreign worker on an H-1B visa can stay in the US for three years. The visa can be renewed, allowing for a maximum stay of up to six years. Certain requirements must be met for this extension to be granted, and the employer must fill out additional forms to file for the extension.

A worker who is on an H-1B visa can bring his or her spouse and any unmarried children under 21 to live with him or her in the US as dependents. Their dependents can continue to live in the US as long as the worker is on a valid H-1B visa.

Applying for Permanent Residency While on an H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is a dual intent visa, meaning that a worker on this type of visa can also apply for, and obtain, permanent residency in the US.

If you have questions about the H-1B visa or are in the US on an H-1B visa with questions about filling for permanent residency, contact our San Mateo immigration attorney at The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm. We understand the complexities of the immigration process and have helped hundreds of individuals achieve their immigration goals.

Contact us online or call us at (650) 931-2509 to see how The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm can provide thorough advocacy for you.