U.S. Immigration: H-1B Visa Category
H-1B is a Dual-Intent Specialty Occupation Non-Immigrant Work Visa
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa category that allows U.S. employers to hire professional foreign nationals with specialized skills and unique credentials, if they are having difficulties finding the suitable candidates among U.S. citizens or permanent residents in the current U.S. labor market. While the H-1B is issued in three-year increments, a professional foreign national who is granted an H-1B visa can live and work in the U.S. for a maximum of six (6) consecutive years.
Employers from many fields and industries can benefit from the H-1B visa category to enhance their human resource assets with foreign employees possessing unique and specialized skills. Many industries with specialty occupations employ workers with H-1B visas and those include information technology, telecommunications, architecture, engineering, education and scientific research, aerospace, manufacturing, entertainment, social sciences, biotechnology, healthcare and medicine, legal, banking and finance, accounting, sales/advertising/marketing, multimedia/arts, and human resources.
The spouse and children (under the age of 21) are entitled to accompany the holder of the H-1B visa and legally live in the USA under an H-4 visa.
In regards to the H-1B process and requirements, the employer, a company or organization, must file a petition on behalf of the foreign professional; foreign nationals cannot apply on their own to work in the U.S. There is an annual cap on the number of H-1B visas issued every year. General requirements to qualify for an H-1B visa include possessing a bachelor's degree or higher, depending on the industry and the proposed position in the U.S. In some cases, when the applicant does not possess a degree, the equivalent years of experience in the field is required.
One of the main requirements for an H-1B application is the Labor Condition Application (LCA) which must be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor prior to filing the application with the USCIS. There are additional factors in favor of the applicant which should be taken into consideration such as whether the prospective employee has been previously granted an H-1B or whether the applicant/employee has a Master's degree or higher from a U.S. educational institution or university.
The employer must also keep in mind the rules under the H-1B visa category in regards to the termination of employment of the foreign national holding an H-1B.
The H-1B visa is a dual intent visa, meaning the holder of the visa can apply for permanent residency in the U.S., also known as the Green Card, while the visa remains valid.
Effective Jan. 17, 2017 there will be a 60-day grace period for non-immigrant workers in the USA following loss of employment. This new rule applies to foreign nationals in E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, O-1, or TN classification to allow them to apply for a change of employer or change of status. READ MORE...
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