The H-1B visa is used by members of the professions who come to the United States to work in a "specialty occupation".
A "specialty occupation" is a position that requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in a specific field related to the job.
The H-1B may be granted for three years. After that, an additional three years may be granted. After six years, the worker must spend one year outside the United States before he or she is entitled to have another H-1B visa. In some instances when the application for permanent residence has been started, the H-1B may be extended beyond the total six-year period to allow completion of the application.
An H-1B visa is for a single job with a single employer. However, it is possible to obtain an H-1B visa to work part-time. It is also possible to have multiple H-1B visas at the same time to work for different employers.
The beneficiary’s spouse and minor children may apply to accompany the H-1B beneficiary in H-4 status. The H-4 visa does not allow work in the United States, but does allow study.
The H-1B employer must have a United States taxpayer identification number and must agree to assume the following responsibilities:
There are a limited number of H-1B visas available each year pursuant to a quota system. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) fiscal year is from October 1, through September 30. H-1B visas for the 2016-2017 year will have a start date of October 1, 2016. However, the USCIS will accept H-1B petitions six months before the start date – as early as April 1, 2016.
There are two separate H-1B quotas. The first quota is for individuals who have a bachelor's or equivalent degree. There are 65,000 visas available, of which 6,800 visas are specially set aside for applicants from Singapore and Chile. The second quota is for those who hold a master’s or higher degree from a United States institution and there are 20,000 visas available. Last year, H-1B quota closed at the end of business day of April 7th, which is five business days after USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions. During those five days, the USCIS reported having received a total of approximately 233,000 petitions, which is approximately three times as many petitions as there were visas available. The USCIS employed a “random selection process.”