H-1B Frequently Asked Questions

?Do I need a Bachelor’s degree to apply for an H-1B visa?
The H-1B Visa category requires the applicant to possess either a Bachelor’s degree in a related field or its equivalent in work experience. A broad range of professional occupations qualify but some categories/industries are more difficult to obtain approval. Therefore, a careful analysis of the applicant’s background, job requirements/industry must be conducted by a qualified immigration attorney prior to application.
?Does H-1B require selection in a lottery (H-1B Cap)?
For the majority of H-1B applications, the applicant must be entered into a lottery-based selection system. Each year 65,000 applications are selected in the electronic lottery system. Only those applications selected are eligible to submit H-1B petitions to USCIS for review and ultimate approval.
?What is H-1B Master’s Cap?
For those with US Master’s (or higher) degrees from an eligible institution of higher education (public or other non-profit institution that is accredited), they are exempt from the Cap until the number of applications which are exempt on this basis exceeds 20,000. Therefore, US Master’s degree holders do have a greater probability of being selected.
?Are any employers exempt from the H-1B lottery system?
Universities and related non-profit entities, nonprofit research organizations, and government research organizations are exempt from the Cap. These employers are eligible to submit H-1B applications to USCIS at any time without entering the lottery.
?Is there a specified salary and how is it determined?
Yes, the employer must certify that it will pay the “prevailing wage” or the “actual wage”, whichever is higher. The prevailing wage is determined by the Department of Labor and the actual wage is the wage paid to similarly situated workers.
?Can my family members accompany me to the US?
Yes, family members (spouses and children under the age of 21) can accompany the H-1B holder in dependent status for the duration of the H-1B employment period.
?Once I commence H-1B employment in the US, can I change employers?
Yes, however, the new employer will be required to submit a new petition to USCIS prior to changing employers.
?How long can I remain in the US in H-1B status?
Generally speaking, H-1B status can be held for a maximum period of 6 years. However, there are exceptions that permit the H-1B holder to extend their stay in the US for longer than 6 years if they have reached a certain stage in a pending green card application. In addition, any time spent outside the US can be recaptured.
?Can I extend my H-1B past 6 years?
A foreign national worker is limited to a maximum duration of six years in H1B status. The law, however, provides a few exemptions to this general rule. An individual may qualify to extend status in one- or three-year increments beyond the statutory six-year limits under certain circumstances. Understanding these exceptions is critical to ensuring that the foreign national worker is able to maximize his stay in the US in H-1B status while the green card application is pending. The general rule that allows for extensions beyond the six-year maximum in one-year increments requires the initial filing of an employment-based green card application (also known as the labor certification) at least 365 days prior to the expiration of the six year H-1B period. In those cases that do not require a labor certification, the I-140 immigrant petition must be filed at least 365 days prior to the expiration of the six year H-1B term. The H-1B can also be extended in three-year increments beyond the statutory six-year limit if the H1B petitioner can establish that the beneficiary has an approved I-140 petition, and that an immigrant visa number is not immediately available as indicated on the final action chart (i.e., Chart A) of the U.S. Department of State visa bulletin.