The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker can apply for a change of status to another non-immigrant status, find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status and/or change of visa), or must leave the US.
The regulations define a “specialty occupation” as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including, but not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, biotechnology, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum (with the exception of fashion models, who must be “of distinguished merit and ability”.) Likewise, the foreign worker must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and state licensure, if required to practice in that field. H-1B work-authorization is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer.
To be eligible for sponsoring an H-1B visa, the employer must prove that:
1. The position offered requires knowledge, both theoretical and applied, which is almost exclusively obtained through studies at an institution of higher learning.
2. The position requires a specific course of study which relates directly to the position.
3. Attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific activity (or its equivalent) is a minimum requirement for the position.
4. Full state licensure to practice in the occupation, if such licensure is required to practice in the occupation.
5. Completed the degree required for the occupation or possess experience in the specialty equivalent to the completion of such degree.
6. Recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions relating to the specialty.
Each applicant for a visitor visa must submit these forms and documentation as explained below.
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. .
- A passport valid for travel to the U.S. with a validity date of at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application.
- One (1) 2×2 photograph.
- Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee: You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.
- Visa issuance fee: Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.
Important Notice: Before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants or their representatives will need to wait at least 60 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.