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Our firm has extensive experience in petitioning for H-1B visas on behalf of foreign nationals who will be employed in a specialty occupation. The H-1B visa is one of the most useful, flexible and highly sought after visa categories by employers seeking to fulfill their human resource needs. At the beginning of every fiscal year, 65,000 new H-1B visas are awarded to persons holding a bachelor’s degree and 20,000 more are awarded to persons holding at least a master’s degree from a college or university in the United States; commonly referred to the H-1B visa cap. Additionally, there are many scenarios in which an H-1B visa petition is considered exempt from this H-1B visa cap and can therefore be filed at any time.
The H-1B visa was designed to allow employers to engage foreign nationals in the types of jobs occupations that normally require at least a bachelor’s degree to carry out effectively. Common industries that employ H-1B employees include information technology, engineering and manufacturing, all facets of the medical industry, the finance industry and higher education. However, no industry possesses a monopoly over use of this visa category. Careers in business, travel and tourism as well as agriculture may qualify for the H-1B visa program provided that the position offered requires the skills of a person who holds a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Careful analysis by experienced immigration counsel is strongly suggested for employers who are considering the H-1B visa category.
This visa carries additional benefits such as the ability to make multiple entries to and from the United States once stamped at a US consulate. Spouses and children of H-1B visa holders are eligible for an H-4 visa, which allows immediate family members to accompany the principal beneficiary to the United States.
The H-1B visa is a temporary visa, entitling a beneficiary to three years of H-1B visas status at any one time. Normally, a foreign national can obtain one extension of three additional years at the end of the initial, three year visa term for a total of six years of H-1B visa status. However, the H-1B visa is considered a dual intent visa, meaning that a foreign national is permitted to file for permanent resident status or “green card” while maintaining their H-1B visa. If timed properly, a permanent residency filing can allow an H-1B visa holder to apply for unlimited extensions of his or her H-1B visa status.
All H-1B visa petitions are submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, at either the California or Vermont Service Centers. A foreign national who is currently present in the United States and in a valid visa status can adjust to H-1B visa status without leaving the USA. Non-immigrants outside of the United States and persons who change status within the United States and later travel outside of the United States need to take the additional step of obtaining an H-1B visa stamp in their passport through the U. S. Department of State through consular processing.
Thousands of employers and foreign nationals utilize the H-1B visa program every year. There are however important compliance standards and traps for the unwary that accompany H-1B visa petitions. Our experienced immigration counsel can assist you in successfully filing for this exceptionally useful non-immigrant visa category.