H-1B Visa for Specialty Occupations

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Have Questions about the H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is one of the most sought after work visas in America. U.S. employers who rely on foreign talent to fill highly technical roles often look to the H-1B visa as a sponsorship option. Your employer may file a petition to classify you as an H-1B temporary worker if you work in a specialty occupation, engage in cooperative research and development projects administered by the U.S. Department of Defense, or are a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.
Specialty Occupations. Typically, companies file for individuals to come to the U.S. to perform services in specialty occupations. 
 
Below are some key requirements you must meet to be classified as an H-1B Worker. 
·         You must have an employer-employee relationship with the petitioning U.S. employer. 
·         Your job must qualify as a specialty occupation by meeting one of the following criteria 
           o   A bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent
           o   The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it  
                  can be performed only by an individual with at least a bachelor’s degree. 
          o   The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the 
                 duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree.
·         Your job must be in a specialty occupation related to your field of study. 
·         The petitioning employer must submit evidence that a labor condition application (LCA) has been certified by the U.S. Department of Labor. 
·         You must be paid at least the actual or prevailing wage for your occupation, whichever is higher. 
LCA is a mandatory document that the H1B Sponsor/employer needs to file with the U.S. Department of Labor before they file the H-1B petition with USCIS for any non-immigrant worker. 
The LCA contains basic wage and location information about the proposed H-1B employment. 
 
The LCA contains important information about the offered job position for the foreign worker as listed below. 
·         The job title of position offered 
·         Duration of the job position offered (upto 3 years) 
·         Whether the position offered is full time or not
·         Total number of job positions the LCA is applied for (can be on or any number)
·         Rate of pay offered for the position 
·         Location of the job position 
·         Prevailing Wage for the same position in that area 
·         Employer’s & Attorney contact information. 
 
It also contains four standard attestations that the employer must take. 
The H-1B visa is initially granted for up to 3 years, but may then be extended to a maximum of 6 years.
The H-1B visa is a dual intent visa, meaning the H-1B visa holder can apply for and obtain a U.S. Green Card while in the U.S. on an H-1B visa. If the H-1B visa holder is in the U.S. on an H-1B visa and wish to remain in the U.S. for more than six years, you can apply for permanent residency in the U.S. to receive a Green Card. H-1B visa holder should begin the green card application process as soon as possible because sometime the green card process can take multiple years to complete. 
Currently, the immigration law allows for a total of 85,000, new H-1B visas to be made available each year. The annual H-1B visa lottery open in April. Each year, 65,000 visas are issued for applicants in specialty level occupations with at least a bachelor’s degree, and an additional 20,000 are issued for applicants with master’s degrees. H-1B petitioners employed at an institution of higher education or certain nonprofit/government research entities are not subject to the cap and can obtain an unlimited number of H-1B visas. Once the H-1B petition is accepted for processing and approved, the foreign national can start working on October 1st. 
Cap-exemption is available to the U.S. employers that fall into one of the three exception categories including: 
·         Institutions of higher education 
·         Non-profit organization associated with a higher education institution 
·         Non-profit research or government organization 

Cap-exemption also applies to 
·         Petitions for a second extension with the same employer 
·         Amendment petitions with no request for extension and corrections of service errors 
·         Changing employers
The filing fee that goes along with your H-1B application can range anywhere from $460 to $2,460, depending on your company and situation. And that doesn’t include any Premium Processing fees or H-1B “super-dependent” fees. Employers can choose to pay a $1,410 Premium Processing fee, and USCIS will take action on the pending H-1B application within 15 calendar days. In addition, if your company employs 50 or more employees and more than 50 percent of their employees are in H-1B or L-1 status, you will be required to pay a fee of additional $4,000. 
H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and unmarried children under the age 21 years of age to the U.S. under the H-4 non-immigrant visa program. H-4 visa holders are allowed to study and generally are not eligible to work in the U.S, but some may be entitled to a work authorization.  An H-4 visa holder is allowed to remain in the U.S. as long as the H-1B visa holder has a valid legal status.
To begin the petition process the employer must 
·         Complete the Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker. 
·         Submit Evidence 
·         File the Labor Condition Application (LCA) (ETA-9035)
·         Submit Evidence 
·         Submit the Filing Fee(s)
·         Sign and File the Form I-129