The H-1B Visa Program is for foreign individuals with special skills and advanced degrees to be able to come to the United States and work for a company that sponsors them to work in America.
There is an annual limit of 65,000 H-1B visas, plus an exemption from the limit for the first 20,000 foreign applicants each year that possess a Master’s Degree or higher from a U.S. institution.
Applicants who will be working for a U.S. institution of higher learning, like a university, or in government and non-profit research are exempt from this limit.
The fiscal year for the U.S. government starts on October 1. Applications for H-1B visas can be filed six months in advance of the beginning of each fiscal year. The H-1B visa limit is used up very quickly each year. This means it is best to file an application for an H-1B visa on April 1 for the next year, which starts six months later on October 1.
The requirements for an H-1B visa are:
- The applicant has a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent.
- The applicant has a job offer in one of the categories that are specialty occupations.
- The applicant will earn wages in the new job.
- The applicant must receive the prevailing wage for the occupation.
The United States encourages talented workers to find employers willing to sponsor them and offer them a job, to bring them to the United States. Popular categories of specialty occupations include scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and well-known international fashion models.
There are considerable fees required to file an application for an H-1B visa that must be paid by the applicant and/or the employer. Employers may, at their option, pay a premium fee for faster processing service of approved H-1B visa applications.
A qualified immigration attorney works with both the applicant and the U.S. employer to make sure all the requirements are met so that the applicant is able to obtain the H-1B visa. It is important to start on this process well in advance of the time needed for the applicant be able to enter the U.S. to work, because there is significant documentation that needs to be prepared and collected.
Because of the limit on the annual number of H-1B visas issued, it is critical that the properly completed application, with all the necessary documentation, is submitted at the earliest allowed moment (April 1) for each upcoming year.
H-1B Visa Link
Understanding H-1B Requirements Link
H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Cap Season Link
H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models Link
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