Did You Know?
Some Interesting H1B Visa Facts that May Help You:
H1B Visa Qualification Tip
For Visa H1B qualification, 3 years of job experience equals 1 year of university level coursework studies. Therefore if you have a 2 year degree and 6 years of job experience you may, by combining the work experience and 2-year degree, have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in a certain field.
Full-time or Part-time for H1B Status
You may apply for an H1B visa for a full-time position or a part-time position.
Multiple H1B Visas – Concurrent Employment
You can apply for more than one H1B Visa. You can work for more than one United States employer, but you must have separate approved applications for each employer.
H1B Visa Transfer
You can transfer your H1B Visa from one employer to another. There is no limit on the number of H1B transfer applications that can be filed. When you file an H1B transfer application from one employer to another, you are legally authorized to work for the new employer in the H1 status upon receipt of the H-1b Visa transfer application as long as you’re maintaining status with your current H1B employer.
H1B Visa Transfer Timing
An H1B holder can transfer from one employer to another within a relatively short period of time due to the fact that the H1B individual can legally begin working for the new employer upon the filing of the H1b transfer petition as long as he or she is maintaining H1B status with his/her current employer (as discussed above). This means that if all parties involved in the process act quickly and efficiently (the employer, foreign national, and attorney), the H1B individual could possibly begin working for the new employer within approximately two weeks. It should be noted, though, that if the case is filed via regular processing, it could take up to 2-4 months, approximately, for the case to be adjudicated. If it is filed via premium processing, it should be adjudicated within 15 calendar days. Adjudicated means reviewed, resulting in either an approval, request for more evidence, or notice of intent to deny. Again, the H1B individual can work for the new employer while the petition is pending or being adjudicated.
H1B Visa Transfer Pending and Travel
As per the above, you can work for a new employer in the H1B status before your H1B has been approved. In addition, you can also travel internationally while your H1B transfer petition is pending and be readmitted to work for the new employer even while the H1B transfer petition is pending. This can be done in the following circumstances only: 1) your previous H1B approval notice is still valid; 2) you are in possession of the H1B transfer receipt notice; and 3) you have a valid H1B visa stamp in your passport.
H1B Visa Stamp & Transfer
If you have successfully transferred your H1B to a new employer – meaning your H1B transfer petition was approved – and you have a valid H1B visa stamp in your passport, you do not need to obtain a new H1B visa stamp despite the fact that the stamp states the name of your previous employer. You can use the old visa stamp, as long as it hasn’t expired, and the new petition approval notice to travel internationally. In other words, your H1B visa stamp is still valid when you transfer employers as long as it has not expired. Only when it expires would you need to get a new visa stamp based on the new petition approval. It’s important to note that in this scenario you must present your new petition approval notice and unexpired H1B visa stamp – even if states a previous employer – when seeking to re-enter the United States from a trip abroad.
H1B Holder’s Spouse & Children
An H1B visa holder’s spouse and children can apply for H4 visas based on their relationship to the H-1B holder. H4 visa holders cannot work in the United States, but they can go to school and they are in legal status while in the United States.
Previously being subject to the H1B Cap
If you have previously applied for and received an H1b visa within the past 6 years and it was subject to the H1 cap you may not be subject again to the H1B cap. This matter should be discussed with your immigration attorney as you may be eligible and it may be advantageous to you to subject yourself to the cap, if possible.
Duration of the H 1 Visa – 6 years max (with exceptions)
You can apply for an H 1 visa for an initial period of 3 years. Thereafter you can extend the H 1 visa for an additional 3 years for a max period of 6 years. Any time spent in the L-1 visa status will be counted towards the 6 year total. If you are outside of the United States for more than 1 year, you will be eligible for a whole new 6 years of H 1 status.
Exceptions to the 6 year max duration
There are two scenarios where an visa H1b holder can extend his/her period of H 1b visa status beyond the max 6 year limit. The first scenario is if you have filed either a Labor Certification application (PERM) or an I-140 petition 365 days before the expiration of the six-year limitation and the Labor Certification or I-140 petition is still pending. Under this scenario you can request extensions of up to 1 year until the resolution of the immigration process. The other scenario, which doesn’t require a 365 day requirement, is where you have an approved I-140 petition and the immigrant visa number is not available due to visa retrogression. In this circumstance, you may extend your H 1b visa at 3 year intervals.
Alternatives to the H-1B Visa
The H1B visa can oftentimes be too restrictive for a potential beneficiary or employer as a result of the limited duration (6 years) or the strict start-date on cap subject applications (no earlier than Oct. 1) or even the lack of availability. As a result, you may want to consider some of the following common alternatives: TN Visa for Canadian and Mexican nationals; the L-1 visa for intracompany transferees; the O-1 visa for extraordinary individuals; or the E-3 visa for Australians. Other visas that may be suitable, depending on the nature of the situation, are the J-1 visa, the E-1 treaty trader visa, or the E-2 treaty investor visa.
From F1 OPT to H1B – Optional Practical Training & the “H1B Cap Gap”
The “H1B cap gap” refers to a situation where a gap exists between the expiration of your F-1 OPT status and the beginning date for an approved H1b status. In such a situation, USCIS has stated that it will allow you to bridge the gap between the expiration of your F-1 OPT status and the beginning date of your H1b status. However, the only circumstance where the F1 OPT to H1B cap gap will work is if your OPT expires on or after April 1 and before October 1 and you request an H1B start date of October 1. Of course it’s important to note that you must file your H1b application on or after April 1 and before the expiration of your OPT status. This matter should be discussed with your H1b visa lawyer.
Size of Employer
An H1b petitioning employer can be of any size. We have successfully obtained H1b approvals for companies with 1,000s of employees just as we have obtained successful approvals for company’s with as few as 1, 2 or 3 employees. In fact, we have filed many successful H-1B visa petitions for startup businesses. What is important is that the company is a legit operation and that they have a need for an individual of a certain occupation.
H-1B Visa & Green Card
Due to the fact that the H-1B visa is a “dual intent” visa status, just like the L-1 visa, it can provide a good pathway to a green card, either through employment or through family, such as the green card through marriage process. When navigating the green card process through employment, the marriage green card process, or any other avenue, it’s important to understand issues such as work and travel authorization, green card processing time, green card documents, the affidavit of support, the conditional green card, and immigrant visa processing versus the adjustment of status process.
Put our H-1B Visa Attorney experience to work for you. Contact us to discuss your case: 212-643-0985, email us or fill out the contact form above.