H-1B visas are a special type of nonimmigrant visa that allows an applicant working in a specialty occupation to obtain a visa that she may live and work in the United States legally, and travel back and forth abroad.
Specialty occupation is defined to be an occupation that requires a Bachelors Degree, or four years of college education, or the equivalent thereof. If you are lacking in the requisite number of years of education, you may substitute three years of experience in the field for every one year of education that you lack. Examples of specialty occupations include: engineers, accountants, financial consultants, architects, most teachers and professors, graphic designers, and fashion designers.
Note: just having a college degree does not make one eligible for an H-1B visa; we also must prove to the governments satisfaction that the duties of the position require it.
The basic requirements are as follows:
1. The position for which the applicant is being sponsored must be a specialty occupation (i.e. it must require a Bachelors Degree or equivalent to perform the duties).
2. The applicant must have a Bachelors Degree or the equivalent.
3. The applicants education and/or experience must qualify him to perform the duties
of the position.
4. The applicant must have a potential employer willing to sponsor him for the visa.
5. If the applicant is in the United States and wants to change status here without leaving,
he must currently be in valid status.
Please note that, under the current law, the government only issues 65,000 visas of this type per year. Each calendar year, companies can apply as early as April 1 to obtain visas for potential employees that will begin on October 1 of that same year. The numbers fill up quickly, so it is important that employers file the petition on April 1 or as quickly thereafter as possible.
Nonimmigrant work visas were established for people who want to enter the United States temporarily in order to work legally in a particular field.
The key word is temporarily. They are distinguishable from green cards in that nonimmigrant work visas only give a finite period of time usually from one to three years at which point the visa holder is required to either extend/change his status, or go home.
So why get a nonimmigrant work visa if it is only temporary? Because nonimmigrant visas have several advantages:
They are substantially quicker to get, which is important when one is offered a position to commence within a month or two
They are usually cheaper to obtain
What follows are descriptions of the work visas that we most frequently get at our firm. This is not an exhaustive list, nor is it a substitute for legal advice, so please contact us if you have specific questions (please click on each for details).
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