H-1B Visa: Specialty Occupation

The H-1B visa is a temporary employment authorization for foreign professionals to work in specific occupational specialties.

Eligibility

H-1B visas are available for either full-time or part-time employment. The job must meet the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  1. Have and employer-employee relationship with the petitioning U.S. employer.
  2. The job must qualify by meeting one of the followings as a specialty occupation: bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum requirement for the position; the position is unique and only someone with a bachelor’s degree in the field related can perform; employer requires a degree for the job; the job’s duties requires special knowledge with a bachelor’s or higher degree.
  3. The job must be in a specialty occupation related to your field of study.
  4. A prevailing or actual wage must be paid for the position.
  5. The H-1B visa must be available at the time of filing the petition.

Petition Process

The prospective employer must file an approved Form ETA-9035, Labor Condition Application (LCA).

The employer must also file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker to the USCIS.

Once the Form I-129 has been approved the prospective employee may apply for an H-1B Visa.

Fees

The base filing fee is $325.

American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) fee:
(see H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement, Part B):

  1. $750 for a company of 25 full-time employees or less.
  2. $1,500 for a company of 26 full-time employees or more.

The ACWIA fee can only be paid by the company or a representative of the company, and not by the beneficiary. Certain types of petitions that were previously exempt from the ACWIA fee (e.g. Non-Profit Organization, High Education Institute, etc.) are still exempt from the new $1,500 and $750 fee.

Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee is $500 if:

  1. Request for initial H-1B status;
  2. Request for a beneficiary already in H-1B status to change employers. (Chile/Singapore H-1B1 petitions do not applied.)

Public Law 111-230:

  • If a petitioner hires 50 or more employees in the U.S. with half of these employees are in L-1 or H-1B status, the petitioner needs to pay $2,000
  • If requesting for initial H-1B status or requesting for beneficiary already in H-1B status to change employers, $2,000 must be submitted

Premium processing fee of $1,225, if the petitioner or beneficiary wishes to proceed under premium processing. $1,225 can be paid by the company or the beneficiary, and it should be made payable to Department of Homeland Security.

The time it takes to process applications depends on the service center. Right now, the California Service Center takes approximately 2-3 months to process an H-1B application. Premium processed (additional $1,225 filing fee) applications will be processed in 15 days.

For more information about H-1B visa, you may check U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ web page:

http://www.uscis.gov/eir/visa-guide/h-1b-specialty-occupation/h-1b-visa

http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-fiscal-year-fy-2015-cap-season