Work visas (H-1B) are issued to immigrants who come to the United States to work in specialty occupations. Specialty occupation is a job that requires at least a Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalent. Only an employer can file an H-1B petition; therefore an immigrant cannot petition for himself or herself.
Work visa H-1B can be issued for a maximum of three years and can be then renewed for 3 more years. After an immigrant spends 6 years in the US in H-1B status, he or she must leave the US for one year before being allowed to apply again.
This 6 year limit does not apply to immigrants who have begun employment based green card sponsorship. If certain conditions are met, such an immigrant can remain in the US in H-1B status until his or her green card is granted.
H-1B visa has many advantages; unfortunately Congress has set an annual limit of H-1B visas that can be issued during a fiscal year. Currently this limit is set at 65,000 visas per year. In addition, 20,000 visas are reserved for those immigrants who have completed their Master’s Degrees at US universities.
Above limits do not apply to immigrants employed by certain nonprofit organizations, government organizations and universities. Limits also do not apply to those immigrants who wish to renew their visas or to change employers (provided that a 6 year limit is not exceeded).
H-1B visas are issued from October 1, which is the first day of US fiscal year. Immigration regulations allow applying for H-1B six months before that date, i.e. on April 1.
The above information is not legal advice. In order to obtain legal advice, please contact immigration attorney Marcin Muszynski.