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Supporting You Through The H-1B Petition Specialty Occupation Visa Process

With an H-1B visa companies and employers in the United States can temporarily hire individuals from around the world to fill needs for labor and experience in “specialty occupations,” such as engineering, science, computer programming, and other specialties. In order to be granted non-immigrant status under the H-1B visa petition (Form I-129 with H Supplement) must be submitted by the beneficiary’s prospective employer which must be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

H-1B visas are limited to beneficiaries filling positions in “specialty occupations” for which the beneficiary has the necessary qualifications. “Specialty occupations” are defined as the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and the obtainment 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.

Requirements For An H-1B Visa

In seeking to perform services in a “specialty occupation” the beneficiary must document that he or she meets the qualifications for that occupation. The beneficiary must establish.

  • Completion of a degree required as the minimum standard for entry into the occupation in the United States.
  • If a license is required for the occupation, documentation must be submitted that the beneficiary has a full state license to practice in the occupation.

The basic documentation required in your visa application includes:

  • Diplomas and transcripts
  • Resume
  • Copy of Passport and I-94 card
  • Prior approval notices
  • Prior documents issued by USCIS, if any (work authorization, etc.)
  • Letter documenting the experience of the beneficiary, if required (licenses, etc.)
  • Employment verification

An H-1B visa may be approved for an initial maximum of three years. Extensions may be granted for a period up to three years, the total authorized period of stay cannot exceed six years. Family members of the H-1B worker are admitted to the United States in the H-4 category. Family members are not permitted to work in the United States without prior USCIS approval; however, they may undertake studies while remaining in the H-4 category.

The H-1B Visa Cap/Quota

There is an annual cap for H-1B visas set at 65,000 with the new fiscal year beginning on October 1. USCIS will exempt from this quota the first 20,000 petitions for H-1B workers who have masters degrees or higher from a U.S. educational institution. After the 20,000 positions are filled, USCIS will apply petitions for the H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher against the annual cap of 65,000. Once the cap has been reached no more H-1B visas can be granted until the next fiscal year.

H-1B Allows For Dual Intent

The H-1B beneficiary must intend to remain in the United States temporarily. The job does not need to be a temporary position but an affirmation that the temporary worker will depart the United States upon completion of his or her authorized period of stay is sufficient. It is not required that the H-1B worker maintain a foreign residence which he or she has no intention of abandoning as in the case with some other non-immigrant categories. In addition, the pendency of permanent residence applications is not relevant to H-1B petition approvals, visa issuances, visa renewals, or extensions of stay. H-1B visa holders are allowed to have dual intent to remain a non-immigrant and pursue permanent residence status.

Contact Our Firm To Get Started On Your H-1B Visa

If you are an employer or employee wishing to obtain an H-1B visa, our attorneys are here to help you. Call our Boston, Massachusetts, office at 617-855-0444 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.