H-1B Visa

What is H-1B Visa?

H-1B visa is a temporary US visa that allows US companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations such as  fields in architecture, finance, computer programming, education, engineering, science, medicine, health, modelling, research, law and so on. The visa’s initial approval is for 3 years but may then extended up to a maximum of 6 years.

Since H-1B is an employment based (employer sponsored visa), the job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  • Have a bachelor or higher degree or its equivalent
  • Have a degree that is common to the industry
  • Employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
  • Nature of the specific duties are so specialised and complex that knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor or higher degree

To qualify and accept a job offer in a specialty occupation, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Completed a US bachelor’s degree or higher in the field of the specialty occupation from an accredited university
  • Hold foreign degree which is equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree or higher in the field of the specialty occupation
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration or certification in the field of the specialty occupation which authorises you to practice and be engaged in the intended state of employment
  • Have a verifiable and recognised education, experience or training that is equivalent to the completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher which is related to the specialty
Visa Cap

Each year the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas and due to the strict limits, there is a specific window for applications which usually starts on the first business day in April. The cap for H-1B visa usually ends as soon as the cap is filled, so it is highly recommended to get your petition on the first the application is opened.

How to Apply
  1. Applicant accepts a job that meets the above requirements
  2. Employer files the Labor Certification Application (LCA) – I-129 Form to the Department of Labor
    – Employer certifying that the foreign worker will be paid a fair wage and that the worker’s employment will not adversely impact other employees

  3. Employer files H-1B petition with USCIS once the LCA has been approved
    – Approval of a petition does not guarantee that your visa will be approved, so it is important not to make travel plans until your H-1B visa has been approved

  4. Applicant applies for the visa by filing Form DS-160 once the H-1B petition has been approved
  1. Schedule an appointment for a H-1B visa interview with the US Embassy or Consulate
    – All applicants between 13 – 80 years old are required to have an interview
  2. Enter US and work for the sponsoring employer once the visa has been approved
Family Members

Spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) can join the main applicant by applying the dependent visa – H-4 visa. Once a child turns 21 years of age, the child will need to apply for another visa to remain in the US.

H-4 visa holders are not permitted work. However, H-4 spouse may apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765 if the H-1B visa holder meets one of the following requirements:

  • Be the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140
  • Extended H-1B visa beyond the usual 6 year maximum in 1 year increments on a Perm Labor Certification (LC) or filed Form I-140 for H-1B beneficiary at least 365 days prior to the end of the 6 year H-1B visa
H-1B Visa E-3 Visa
Nationality Any Australian citizens only
Visa Cap 65,000 per year 10,500 per year
Visa Length 3 years – maximum 6 years* 2 years – indefinite
Renewals Once only No limit
Application Window April All year around
Employer Sponsorship Required Required
–          Petition Required – approx. USD $500
*Will increase to USD $555 on 02/10/2020
–          Premium Processing Available – approx. USD $1,450 Not available
Spouse Work Permit Not permitted* Permitted
Dual Intent
*Option of applying for a green card in the future
Yes No

Comparison Chart

*For more information, please refer to H-1B visa page