Visa H-1B Guide

H-1B visas are issued to foreign-born professionals who wish to come to the United States to carry out services in a specialty occupation. Such individuals included accountants, architects, attorneys, business professionals, engineers, health care workers, physicians, researchers, and system analysts, among other professionals.

To qualify for H-1B status the individual must:

  • Have a minimum of a four-year university degree (or equivalent);
  • Be paid at the “prevailing wage”; AND
  • Be taking on a job that requires a minimum four-year university degree (or equivalent)

There is a numerical cap for H-1B visas set at 65,000 per fiscal year. Additionally, individuals who obtain advanced degrees from universities in the United States have their own H-1B cap. Also, up to 6,800 H-1B visas are set aside for professionals who are citizens of Chile and Singapore.

Employers are advised to prepare their H-1B petitions (Form I-129) during February and March , and submit them to USCIS, which they should receive by April. If the individual being petitioned for is approved, he or she may commence their employment in October of that same year. It must be noted that there are special regulations for graduates working on Optional practical Training (OPT), which would allow them to continue employment during the spring and summer and automatically change their status to H-1B on October 1st. In addition, there are exceptions from the numerical caps involving employment related universities or non-profit or government research institutions.

H-1B visas are usually valid for three years and can be extended for an additional three years. If a PERM application or I-140 visa petition is submitted within the adequate time frame, extensions of H-1B status are possible. Individuals seeking to become legal permanent residents of the United States should continue to extend their H-1B status until they actually obtain their green cards.


Competitividad Americana en el Siglo 21 de la Ley (AC-21)

Competitividad Americana (ACWIA)