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Bachelor’s degree or higher? Consider an H-1B visa

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If you are interested in coming to the U.S. for three to six years on a non-immigrant basis, you may wish to consider the H-1B visa. The H-1B is for “specialty occupation” workers, people hired for research and development projects by the Department of Defense, and fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.

In order to get an H-1B visa, you need a job offer. Your employer will then petition on your behalf.

If you are interested in an H-1B visa, the deadline is March 20. That means the time to get started on the petition is now.

What is a specialty occupation?

A ”specialty occupation” is basically one that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher (or an equivalent foreign degree). People most commonly associate H1-B visas with scientific and technical jobs, but the job only needs to involve theoretical or practical application of highly specialized knowledge.

Additionally, the job must meet one of the following criteria:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher (or equivalent) is ordinarily a minimum requirement for the position
  • The employer ordinarily requires a bachelor’s degree or higher for the position
  • The degree requirement is common to the industry, meaning that the degree is required for parallel positions among similar organizations, or else the job is so complex that only an individual with a bachelor’s degree or higher can perform it
  • The nature of the job’s duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform them is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher

How do I qualify?

If you are seeking an H-1B visa for a specialty occupation, you must meet one of these criteria:

  • Have the required bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university
  • Have an equivalent foreign degree from an accredited college or university
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration or certification authorizing you to immediately and fully practice the specialty occupation in the state of your intended employment
  • Have education, specialized training and/or progressively responsible experience that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation, along with recognition of your expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions that are directly related to the specialty

Department of Defense (DOD) workers

In order to qualify for the H-1B visa for DOD workers, you must have all of the following:

  • A bachelor’s or higher degree (or equivalent) that is required for the job (the same standards as above)
  • A letter from the DOD project manager verifying your job offer for a cooperative research and development project or coproduction project under a reciprocal government-to-government agreement
  • A general description of your duties in the project, along with the actual dates of your proposed employment
  • A statement of the names of any immigrants currently employed on the project in the U.S., along with their dates of employment, and the names of immigrants on the project whose employment ended within the last year

Fashion models

If the position you have in mind requires a prominent fashion model, you may qualify for an H-1B visa for fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.

Your employer’s responsibility

The H-1B specialty occupation and fashion model visas require you to have a job offer. Your employer will need to submit a labor certification. This basically states that there are not enough U.S.-based workers available for hiring. The employer must also file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

Cap on number of visas available

Most H-1B visas are subject to a numerical cap of 65,000, with an additional 20,000 visas reserved for people with a master’s degree or higher.

You can bring your spouse and children

If you obtain an H-1B visa, you can generally obtain H-4 visas for your spouse and unmarried children under 21. These are non-immigrant visas, but your family members may be able to apply for work authorizations.

If you are interested in an H-1B visa, act now. Contact Yew Immigration Law Group for assistance. We have years of experience helping people live and work in the U.S.