H-1B (Special Occupation) Visa

Working in the United States on the H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa set aside for foreign workers in "specialty occupations." Every year, a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas are issued. Out of the total 65,000 H-1Bs available, several thousand are set aside for recipients of Chilean and Singaporean Free Trade Visas.

Moreover, an additional 20,000 H-1Bs are available for applicants who have completed Master's degrees from US institutions.

How long does the H-1B status last?

An H-1B work visa is issued for a period up to of 6 years, and renewable for a total of 6 years. There are certain circumstances where a worker may extend their H-1B for more than 6 years, either in 1-year increments of 3- year increments.

How do I get an H-1B Visa?

Attaining the H-1B status is getting more competitive in many ways. A prospective H-1B worker must be prepared to look for and garner an offer of work up to 6 months before they can begin working. Although some F-1, J-1, or M-1 students may have optional practice training (OPT) which allows them to work while their H-1B application is pending.

When can I apply for an H-1B?

Generally, H-1B applications are accepted by the USCIS beginning each April 1 st . Keep in mind that for most applicants, you may not be able to work prior to October 1 st of that same calendar year.

How scarce are H-1Bs?

In fiscal year 2007, the USCIS received a record number of H-1B applications on the very first day of the filing period. Subsequently, USCIS considered only those that were properly filed and complete with all appropriate documentation from the first two days of the filing period. This means that applicants should focus on the fact that regardless of when USCIS may run out of H-1B visas this year, applicants and their employers should consider hiring only the most qualified attorneys to represent them in H-1B filings. Attorneys, on-line visa services or immigration consultants that promise low-fees and quick filings often "cheat" or "cut corners" on the applications that they submit. These attorneys or immigration consultants rely on the quantity of applications they prepare, and in a "cookie-cutter" fashion, rather than the quality of the application they are submitting. If you are not getting individualized attention, beware that you may be compromising on the quality of your application and in the end, the likelihood of success in having your application approved.

How far in advance should I contact an immigration attorney?

At Fong & Aquino, we expect and want to be involved with our clients even before they find job offers. We often counsel students during their studies or toward the end of their OPT stay so that our clients have a very clear timeline of what they need to prepare for well before H-1Bs become available. We also work with clients who are changing employers or who have been laid off or have quit their jobs and need immediate advice on retaining their status here in the US.

Why do I need an attorney to file an H-1B case?

Only an attorney can represent both the employer and the employee (the applicant) before proceedings with USCIS. In addition, the attorneys at Fong & Aquino are also oftentimes involved in speaking with prospective employers when they have questions about the H-1B process, and the types of responsibilities or liabilities an employer may have in sponsoring H-1B applicants.

Please contact our office for a consultation if you are interested in applying for an H-1B, or if you are an employer interested in learning more about the program. Our attorneys are extremely experienced in handling all types of H-1B cases, representing small and large corporations, school districts, religious organizations, and even non-profit organizations that are not subject to the H-1B cap. Our attorneys are also immigration lecturers for the American Immigration Lawyers Association and Los Angeles County Bar Association.

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