H-B1 visas are non-immigrant visas that are designed for U.S. employers to hire non-U.S. employees with particular skills in specialty occupations. H-B1 visas can be tricky for a number of reasons so it’s important to obtain good legal representation in the form of an immigration attorney to help you navigate the process.

H-B1 Visa Basics

The H-B1 visa is a visa granted to a non-U.S. citizen with graduate-level education in specialized fields of employment. These fields are determined by the U.S. government.

This type of visa allows an individual to work within the U.S. for a specified amount of time. As a non-immigrant visa, the H-B1 visa is not intended for those seeking to reside permanently in the United States. However, an individual with an H-B1 visa may apply for and obtain their green card while they are in the United States.

The H-B1 visa is granted for as long as 3 years and it may then be extended for as long as 6 years. If this 6 year period is drawing to a close but you are still in the U.S. on a valid H-B1 visa and you still wish to stay in the United States, you must apply for permanent residence. If, however, your H-B1 visa has expired and you have not gained permanent residence, you must leave the country and stay out of the country for one year before you can reapply for a visa to return.

“Specialty Occupation” Qualifications of the H-B1 Visa

To qualify as a “specialty occupation” a job must meet one of the following requirements:

  • The job must meet a minimum entry requirement of having a Bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent.
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so unique that it can be done only by someone with a degree.
  • The duties required by the job are so specialized or advanced that the knowledge required to perform them is associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Employee Qualifications for the H-B1 Visa

In order to qualify for a position in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the requirements below:

  • You must have obtained a US bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university as required by the specific specialty occupation.
  • You must have obtained a foreign equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher in the specialty occupation.
  • You must have an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which permits you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state where you intend to be employed.
  • You must have education, training, or experience in the specialty field that is equivalent to the completion of the degree types mentioned above AND have recognition of that expertise through progressively responsible positions that are directly related to the specialty.

H-B1 Visa Caps

There are a limited number of H-B1 visas available per year and they can be particularly difficult to obtain based on this cap. Most employers must begin the H-B1 application as much as six months before the start date of the employee in question.

Need Assistance with Your H-B1 Application?

If you need assistance with your H-B1 application and you live in California contact Nelson and Associates today at 626-683-3451.