Business Visas (H-1B, H2B, L-1, etc.)

EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISA FOR PROFESSIONALS –H1B

The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) allows United States (U.S.) employers to meet an immediate and temporary need for foreign professionals or persons with exceptional ability working in “specialty occupations.” The visa used for this purpose is called H-1B, also known as employment-based visa for professionals. H-1B visas are subject to a numerical annual limit of 65,000.  Foreign professionals holding a U.S. Masters or PhD degree, however, are excluded from this cap; there are 20,000 additional visas for these applicants. H-1B visa holders who are renewing their visas are not subject to the annual cap. Also, petitions made by universities, government and non-profit organizations are not count against the 65,000 annual cap. The H-1B or employment-based visa is given for three years, and a maximum of six years. Applicants must submit their petitions for H-1B visa on or after April 1 of each year to be considered for the annual quota of the immediately following fiscal year.  For instance, for the annual fiscal year 2010-2011, which starts on October 2010, H-1B applicants should start applying on April 1, 2010.

The H-1B or employment-based visa should be prepared by an attorney because it is complex and involves several requirements. Following, there is a summary of the basic requirements for an H-1B or employment-based visa. The basic requirements for an H-1B visa are as follows: (1) a United States employer willing and financially capable of employing a foreign professional or a person with exceptional ability in a specialty occupation.  The longer the employer has been in business the better the financial ability of that employer and the possibility of approval; (2) a foreign professional or person with exceptional ability. A professional is a person holding a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty. The bachelor’s or higher degree must be from an accredited educational institution. The foreign professional needs to have his/her credentials evaluated by an accredited evaluator or institution in the U.S.; (3) the work must be performed in a “specialty occupation.” This means, the applicant’s job must require “theoretical and practical application of a highly specialized body of knowledge.”

The H-1B visa applicant may prove this requirement with his/her bachelor’s degree in the specialty occupation and his/her work experience. These are the basic requirements to consider the possibility of applying for an H-1B or employment-based visa. In addition to these basic requirements, INA calls for various specific forms, evidence and fees.

Once the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) receives complete H-1B application forms, evidence, and fees, the process starts. CIS will first issue a receipt notice assigning a case number and priority date. Then, the applicant will receive notices from CIS, including a fingerprint appointment and request for additional evidence if needed. The process may take between 3-5 months. The applicant, however, may request premium processing. This is an expedite processing that guarantees a decision in thirty days if the applicant pays a US$1,000 fee.  Once CIS approves the H-1B visa the beneficiary, if in the U.S., will have to travel to the U.S. consular office in his/her country of origin to get his/her passport stamped with the H-1B non-immigrant visa. The consular office will review, for the second time, the visa application, regardless of the CIS H-1B approval. The applicant will need to fill out some additional consular forms before attending the consular interview.

Immigration attorney Martha L. Arias can help you with your petition for an H-1B or business-based visa for professionals.  Attorney Martha L. Arias has prepared and filed hundreds of H-1B visa petitions with excellent results for her clients. Click on the Consultation link for an online consultation with your immigration attorney Martha L. Arias now!

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