is an H-1B?
H-1B classification is for individuals in professional or "specialty
occupations" that are offered temporary employment in the United
The job offered must be in a "specialty occupation," i.e.,
bachelor's (or higher) degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum
requirement for the particular position in question (some exceptions).
(Examples: Software Engineer, Accountant, Teacher, Attorney, President/CEO,
The beneficiary must be qualified to work in the specialty occupation
offered, i.e., must possess a U.S. bachelor's degree or the equivalent
or higher in the field required by the specialty occupation (some
What are the
procedures for getting an H-1B?
The H-1B process is a two-step process.
Labor Condition Application ("LCA")
The employer must file an LCA with the U.S. Department of Labor attesting
that certain conditions have been met, including the requirement that
the prevailing market wage be offered. The employer also must maintain
specific types of documentation of the conditions attested to in the
The H-1B Petition
The H-1B petition by the employer must be filed with:
1. Evidence that the job offered is in a "specialty occupation";
2. Evidence of the alien beneficiary's qualifications; and
3. The approved LCA and proof that the offered salary is "market"
long does an H-1B take, and how long is it valid?
It takes the U.S. Department of Labor one week or less to approve
an LCA. Then, it generally takes the CIS California Regional Service
Center approximately 6 to 18 weeks to adjudicate an H-1B petition.
(Premium processing is available with an additional fee of $1000,
through which INS guarantees adjudication within 15 days.)
An initial H-1B petition may be approved for a temporary period of
up to three years, and an extension of up to three years is available.
The total amount of time an alien may spend in H-1B status in the
United States is six years, with one year extensions available for
certain workers whose permanent residence processing ("labor
certification") has been pending for over 1 year.
there a "waiting list" for H-1B status?
There is currently an annual limit of 65,000 H-1B workers
per year. There is currently more demand
for H-1B visas than there are available visas, so the CIS runs out
of visa numbers early in the year. Not everyone is counted against
the quota (U.S. masters degree holders are allotted 20,000 visas
per year, there are separate visa numbers for certain countries such
as Singapore, Chile, Australia, and persons who work for certain
institutions of higher education or non-profits are exempt from the
quota). Futhermore, persons previously allotted H-1B visas may be
able to reuse their old number.