US companies who need to employ a foreign national professional on a temporary basis, often rely on H1B visas. The H-1B nonimmigrant visa may be used to bring a worker temporarily to the United States if the employee will work in a “specialty occupation,” which requires the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific specialty, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
An employee with H1B status may only remain in the United States on a temporary basis. The initial petition may be approved for up to three years. After the initial three year period, H-1B status may be extended for an additional three year period. After six years, the worker must spend one year outside the United States before he or she is entitled to re-enter in H-1B status. However, if the H-1B worker begins the Permanent Residence process prior to the fifth year anniversary in H-1B status, the H-1B status may be continuously extended in one year increments irrespective of the six year cap until a decision is made on the Application for Permanent Residence. The H-1B employee’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old may be granted H-4 status. An H-4 visa holder is not permitted to work in the United States. However, an individual in H-4 status may attend school.
The employer must have a U.S. taxpayer identification number. Foreign businesses not established in the U.S. cannot use this visa to bring employees here. The employer must establish that the nature, scope, and activity of the business enterprise requires the services of an employee with a related four year degree. The employer must also certify to immigration that the employee will be paid a prevailing wage.
Every year there are 65,000 available visas for H1B employee with a 4 year bachelor degree and there is an addition 20,000 available visas for employees with advanced degrees. In 2014, USCIS received 172,500 applications during the first five days of filing. The filing window opens on April 1, 2015 and the start date must be Oct 1, 2015.
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