H-1B Visas cover specialty occupations, fashion models of distinguished merit and ability, and individuals providing services under Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development projects or co-production projects. Nationals of certain countries with which the United States has signed treaties (Chile and Singapore) are eligible for the H-1B1 visa.
Specialty occupations are defined as those that require application of a body of knowledge and at least a Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalent. H-1B workers must be sponsored by a U.S. employer, who must certify that the employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages or working conditions of U.S. workers in the same occupation. A worker can be employed in H-1B status for a maximum of 6 years, subject to very specific exceptions. Common occupations that are included within such classification include law, accounting, medicine and healthcare, management consulting, programming and other computer-related occupations. Dependents (spouses or children) of an H-1B visa holder are given H-4 status. H-1B status is commonly held by employees awaiting completion of the permanent residency process and is extendable beyond six years under specific conditions related to permanent residency applications.
The H-1B specialty occupation visa program has an annual numerical limit, or cap, of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. USCIS incorporates a lottery process to select which 65,000 visa applicants are chosen for each fiscal year. The number of visas available through this program simply do not meet the needs of U.S. businesses who apply for foreign national workers each year. When a foreign national’s application is not selected in the lottery process, our attorneys will assist the company and foreign national(s) in exploring alternative options in order to allow the foreign national to remain in the United States.