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H-1B Professional Visa

General

In general, the H-1B visa allows foreign national professionals to live and work in the United States.

Eligibility

To qualify for an H-1B Professional visa, you must have a U.S. bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) in the field in which you intend to work, and a job offer. Significant and relevant work experience may substitute for a bachelor’s degree, but such experience must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Duration

H-1B visas are valid for an initial period of three years and can be renewed for a further three years. After that, you must leave the country for one year before once again applying for H-1B status. This rule is subject to numerous exceptions, however.

Changing Employers

You must obtain a new H-1B each time you change U.S. employers. Also, an H-1B holder should not be unemployed – that is, there should be no “lag-time” between jobs. If time elapses between H-1B jobs, you will have to return to your home country to obtain a new H-1B at a U.S. consulate.

Dual Intent

An H-1B is a “dual intent” visa, which means that, although it is a non-immigrant visa, you do not have to intend to return to your home country as an H-1B visa-holder and may apply for permanent residence while in H-1B status.

H-1B Cap/Quota

The quota for H-1B visas is currently 65,000 per annum. However, the quota only applies to those applying for H-1B’s for the first time. People already in H-1B status may change jobs or extend their H-1Bs and are not affected by the quota.

Chile and Singapore:

6,800 of the 65,000 available visas are set aside for nationals of Chile and Singapore. These visas are issued for one- year periods only but extensions are not limited to the usual six-year period.

U.S. Master’s or higher degrees:

The first 20,000 H-1B visa petitions filed on behalf of those with a master’s or higher- level degree earned from a U.S. institution of higher education are exempt from the annual fiscal cap.

Institutions of higher education and related or affiliated non-profit entities, non-profit research organizations, and governmental research organizations.

Petitions on behalf of foreign nationals who will be working at these institutions, which include many city hospitals, are not subject to the cap at all and can be filed at any time.

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