H-1B Visas for Professionals
Who is Eligible?
To qualify for H-1B status, an individual must work in a “specialty occupation,” which is an occupation that normally requires a Bachelor’s Degree.
Is Employer Sponsorship Required?
Yes. An H-1B petition must be filed by a U.S. sponsoring employer on behalf of an individual. An individual cannot file their own H-1B petition. An approved H-1B petition provides an individual authorization to work only for the sponsoring employer.
How Long Can an Individual Stay in the U.S. in H-1B Status?
H-1B status can be granted for an initial 3 year period, plus an additional 3 year extension, for a total of 6 years. In some circumstances, an individual can qualify for special extensions beyond the normal 6 year limitation.
Spouses and Children
Spouses and children (under age 21) of H-1B visa holders can be granted H-4 dependent status. H-4 status alone does not provide work authorization, but some H-4s qualify for EAD cards.
Government Filing Fees
H-1B Filing Fee
U.S. Worker Training Fee
$1,500 ($750 for employers with 25 employees or less)
$500 (for initial application, not on extensions)
Premium Processing Fee
An employer has the option to request expedited processing (15 days or less) of an H-1B petition for an additional fee of $1,225.
An employer is required to pay the H-1B Filing Fee for every H-1B petition submitted on behalf of an employee. The employer is required to pay the U.S. Worker Education and Training Fee only for the first two H-1B petitions submitted on behalf of an employee, and is required to pay the Anti-Fraud fee for only the first H-1B petition submitted on behalf of an employee.
H-1B petition processing times can vary between 3-6 months.
Expedited processing (15 days or less) can be requested with the payment of an additional premium processing fee.
Special H-1B Issues
As part of the H-1B visa application process, employers must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor and comply with specific LCA regulations related to payment of the required wage, public access file record keeping, employee notice and other requirements.
The H-1B Cap
There is a quota or “cap” on the number of new H-1B visas that can be granted on an annual basis. The H-1B cap is currently 65,000, and the counting period begins on October 1. H-1B extension petitions are not counted toward the annual H-1B cap.