The H-1B visa is for workers in specialty occupations, such as: Architecture, Engineering, Mathematics, Physical sciences, Social sciences, Medicine and health, Education, Business specialties, Accounting, Law, Theology, or The Arts.
H-1B visas are available only to workers in occupations requiring highly specialized knowledge, normally acquired through a college education, and to distinguished fashion models. Although this myriad of specialty occupations mentioned above exist to qualify under H-1B qualifications, there are some requirements to successfully obtain your visa:
- You must be coming to the U.S. to perform services in a specialty occupation and have a college degree (or its equivalent in experience, typically a minimum of twelve years in that specialty field), or be a distinguished fashion model.
- You must first have a job offer from a U.S. employer that agrees to sponsor you.
The employer must then file an “attestation” with the U.S. Department of Labor that certifies that they will pay the average or “prevailing wage” for the specific type of job in that area (or the actual wage paid to similar workers at that employer, depending on which is the higher of the two).
It is essential also that you have the correct background for the job you are offered. Therefore, if your academic and professional credentials are strong, yet do not match the job, you are not eligible for an H-1B visa in that specific specialty occupation.
The job you are entering must also meet one of the following criteria:
- A bachelor’s degree of higher degree (or equivalent) is the minimum requirement for entry into the position;
- The degree requirement is common to the industry, or the duties of the position are so complex that it can be performed only by a person with a degree;
- The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or
- The specific duties are so specialized and complex that knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with a bachelor’s degree.
- You can legally work in the U.S. for your sponsor.
- H-1B visas are typically issued quickly (6 weeks to 3 months).
- You may travel in and out of the U.S. as long as your visa stamp and status are valid.
- Visas are available for immediate family members (spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age).
- You may work only for the employer that sponsored you. If you change jobs, you must obtain new H-1B status.
- Employers must have an attestation on file with the U.S. Department of Labor before they can sponsor you for H-1B status.
- The maximum length of stay in the U.S. under H-1B status is six years. After that time, you must return to your home country (unless you are eligible to apply for another nonimmigrant visa status or plan to apply for permanent residence).
- Immediate family members may stay in the U.S. with you, but cannot work (unless they are applying for a work visa independently of you).
Successful H-1B applicants may initially stay in the U.S. for up to three years, and may opt to extend their status for another three years, for a maximum stay of six years.