The H-1B is an extremely versatile and complex visa which encompasses many vocations, pursuits and professions. To qualify for an H-1B Professional visa, an applicant must have a US bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) in the field in which he intends to work, and a job offer. Significant and relevant work experience may substitute for a bachelor's degree but must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
H-1B visas are valid for an initial period of three years and can be renewed for a further three years. After that, the alien (or "beneficiary") must leave the country for one year before once again applying for H-1B status.
A new H-1B must be obtained each time the beneficiary gets a job with a new employer. If the beneficiary is in the US and does not want to leave the country to get a visa stamped in his passport, he may apply for change of status. He will receive a new I-94 to put in his passport rather than a new visa. It is possible to get a visa stamped in the passport by applying to the US consulates in Canada or Mexico if the beneficiary does not want to return to his home country.
An H-1B holder should not be unemployed. This means there should be no "lag-time" between jobs. If time elapsed between H-1B jobs, the beneficiary may have to return to his home country to obtain his new H-1 at the US consulate.
An H-1B is a "dual intent" visa. This means that, although it is a nonimmigrant visa, the holder does not have to intend to return to his home country and may apply for Permanent Residence ("Green Card") when he is in H-1B status.
The quota for H-1B visas is currently 65,000 per annum. However, the quota only applies to those applying for H-1B's for the first time, or switching from another visa or status, eg an F-1 student visa to an H-1B . People already in H-1B status may change jobs or extend their H-1's and are not affected by the quota.
6, 800 of the 65,000 available visas are set aside for nationals of Chile and Singapore. These visas are issued for one- year periods only but extensions are not limited to the usual six-year period.
The first 20,000 H-1B visa petitions filed on behalf of those with a master’s or higher- level degree earned from a U.S. institution of higher education are exempt from the annual fiscal cap.
Petitions on behalf of aliens who will be working at these institutions, which include many city hospitals, are not subject to the cap at all and can be filed at any time.
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