What are the H1B visa requirements?
The H1B visa is specifically open only to graduate level workers in specialty occupations requiring theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields.
To qualify as a specialty occupation, the position must meet one of the following criteria:
- A bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent, is normally the minimum requirement for entry into the particular position;
- The degree requirement for the position is common to the industry, or the particular position is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree;
- The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or
- The nature of the specific duties are so specialized and complex that knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.
To qualify to perform services in a specialty occupation, the worker must meet one of the following criteria:
- Have a bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specialty occupation from an accredited US college or university;
- Have a foreign degree determined to be equivalent to a US bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university;
- Have an unrestricted state license, registration or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment; or
- Have education, specialized training, and/or progressively responsible experience that is equivalent to completion of a US bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly relate to the specialty.
What is the H1B visa cap?
The H1B visa category has an annual numerical cap which limits the total number of foreign nationals provided H1B status to 65,000 per fiscal year, with an additional allocation of H1B status to 20,000 foreign nationals per fiscal year with a US master’s degree or higher.
What is the H1-B electronic registration process?
In 2020, a new electronic system was introduced for cap-subject H1-B petitions.
This requires the H1B employer to register with USCIS and pay a $10 registration fee for each H1B applicant (‘beneficiary’) it intends to sponsor.
The registration window is open for a period of at least 14 days each year, usually during March.
According to USCIS, the initial H-1B registration period for FY 2022 will open at noon Eastern Time (ET) on March 9, 2021, and run through noon ET on March 25, 2021.
Registrations can be made at any time during this specified period, and once the window is closed, registrations will be selected at random.
Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Accepted H1B petitions which are subsequently approved will allow the foreign national to begin work for the petitioning employer no sooner than October 1 of the same year, in line with requested petition validity dates.
What are the H1B visa cap exemptions?
Certain individuals are exempt from the H1B annual cap and an H1B petition may be filed on their behalf at any time, regardless of whether the annual cap has been met. Such individuals include:
- Foreign nationals who have been counted toward the cap within the last six years (for example, a foreign national already working for a US company in H1B status with time remaining in H1B status).
- Foreign nationals who will be employed in the US at an institution of higher education or an affiliated non-profit entity, a non-profit research organization, or a government research organization.
Can the H1B visa be renewed?
Workers can spend up to six years in the US with H1B status before they must return abroad for at least one year before being granted H1B status again.
To remain in the US longer than six years, H1B visa holders can become eligible for a Green Card and file for an adjustment of status to permanent residency.
Can dependents apply under the H1B visa?
H1B spouses and dependant children under the age of 21 may apply for the H-4 visa, which will allow them to reside with the primary visa holder in the US.With an H-4 visa, family members can study, obtain a driver’s license, open a bank account while in the US. H-4 visa holders can only work in the US if they hold a valid H-4 Employment Authorization Document.