H-1B Visa – Specialty Occupations
What is an H-1B visa?
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant classification that allows foreign professionals the opportunity to work in the United States through a U.S.-based employer on a temporary basis. The U.S. employer and the foreign worker must adhere to several USCIS regulations to be eligible. Depending on the classification, that includes filing for a Labor Condition Application (LCA) after being selected.
To be eligible for the H-1B Specialty Occupation classification, the following criteria must be met:
- The position must be filed as a “specialty occupation.”
- The worker must hold a Bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent
- The employer must obtain a labor condition application
H-1B Visa Cap (Lottery)
The H-1B visa has a limit on the number applicants chosen each fiscal year. As of October 19th, 2021, the “regular cap” is 65,000. If an individual applying is part of the advanced degree exemption (U.S. master’s degree or higher), the first 20,000 petitions filed are exempt from the cap.
The H-1B is also available for offers of employment for DOD researchers and development project workers (H-1B2) and distinguished fashion models (H-1B3). Labor condition application is not required for H-1B2 applicants.
Once you have been selected in the visa lottery, the employer can begin filing a petition on your behalf. This includes submitting a Labor Condition Application to the Department of Labor for certification. After the LCA is certified, the employer will have to complete Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and submit the LCA and I-129 to USCIS.
If your Form I-129 is approved and you are in the U.S. on a different visa category, you will have to wait until your H-1B visa status becomes active. Otherwise, you will need to apply for consular processing if you are outside the U.S.
Can my family accompany me?
You may bring your spouse and unmarried children under 21 to live with you on an H-4 visa. Your spouse may be eligible for employment authorization if you are in the process of gaining legal permanent residence (green card).