OverviewAn H-1B visa a type of work authorization for foreign professionals. They specifically must have some kind of specialized knowledge. As it relates to the technology industry, this could include jobs such as:
- research analysts
- management consultants
- any others with a Bachelor's or higher degree.
ProcessingTo start the H1 visa process, an application, called an H-1B petition, must be filed by the employer requesting permission for the foreign alien to work temporarily in the United States. This petition must be approved by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (also known as the INS) before the worker can start working in the United States. Once the application has been approved, the H-1B worker is said to be a beneficiary.
Specific ConsiderationsThe H-1B is employer specific. The beneficiary employee may only work for the employer that was approved on the petition. Transfers of H-1B status are possible; the new employer would need to file a new petition. If an employee intends to work for more than one employer at the same time, each employer must file separate petitions.
The H-1B is initially approved for three years. An extension for an addition three year term is possible. A worker can not stay beyond the six year period unless steps have been taken to begin the process of permanent residency (usually via green card).
There is a limit to the number of new H-1B petitions that the US INS will grant each year. This limit is currently set at 65,000 new approvals. This limit does not affect transfers, only new applications. The INS begins accepting applications April 1 for new beneficiaries to begin work October 1. The quota is usually reached within weeks.