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What kinds of occupations qualify for H-1B status?

A broad range of professional specialty occupations qualify for H-1B status, including teachers. Generally, professional-level occupations in engineering, biological, physical, social sciences, mathematics, and business administration will qualify for H-1B. A bachelor's degree is always the minimum requirement for an occupation to qualify for H-1B status, but depending on the position, an advanced degree (Master's or Ph.D.) may be necessary.


Who is eligible to obtain H-1B status?

H-1B status is available to a person who has been offered a temporary specialty occupation position by a U.S. employer. A bachelor's degree or higher in a related area is the minimum educational level required for a position to qualify for H-1B status, and the H-1B employee must have this degree (or higher).


What is H-1B?

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that allows foreign nationals to stay and work in the United States temporarily. An H-1B visa petition may be filed for an alien to work in the US to perform services in a specialty occupation.


What are the H-1B qualifications?

In order to qualify for a job offer from a US employer who will sponsor your H-1B petition, you should:

Have a US Bachelor's degree or higher in the area of your specialty occupation from an accredited institution;
Have an equivalent foreign degree; or
Have experience through positions held in your specialty occupation equivalent to the completion of such degree.
Who can file H-1B petition?

You cannot file your own H-1 visa petition. Only your prospective employer who has made a job offer may file your H-1B petition on your behalf.


Can an H-1B visa petition be filed while I am working overseas?

Yes. A US employer may offer you a job while you are still working with a company overseas. You do not need to be present in the US at the time when your prospective US employer files your H-1B petition.


 Is there a minimum salary for a job in H-1B status?

Yes, the employer hiring an H-1B worker, must have documentation to prove, and then must certify to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that it will pay the H-1B employee the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher. The prevailing wage is the salary paid to workers in similar occupations in the geographic area of the intended employment. The actual wage is the wage that the employer pays employees in similar occupations at the location of the intended employment. The employer must also certify that it is not displacing any U.S. workers to hire the H-1B applicant, and that there are no strikes or other work stoppages in the occupation in which the H-1B applicant will be employed. The employer makes these declarations.


What must the employer do to hire an H-1B worker?

After receiving the certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from DOL, the employer then submits a petition (application), with supporting documentation to the USCIS.


How long does it take to obtain H-1B status?

The amount of time required to obtain H-1B status varies according to circumstances at the particular employer, DOL and the USCIS. The total processing time at DOL including prevailing wage determination (if necessary)/LCA, and USCIS processing can take six to seven months, or longer.  However, in certain instances the processing time can be cut down considerably by using PREMIUM PROCESSING when available.


What is the H-1B "cap"?

The cap refers to the limit of H-1B visas allowed per federal fiscal year (FY). A fiscal year begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th of the following year. Current regulations set the cap at 65,000 H-1B visas for the entire country.


Who is exempt from the H-1B cap?

The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is exempt from the H-1B cap.  Universities and related nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations and government research organizations are exempt from the cap. These employers are able to submit an H-1B application to the USCIS at any time during the year without concern for the fiscal year limit.


My immigration status is J-1 Exchange Visitor. Am I eligible for H-1B status?

Certain, but not all, J-1 Exchange Visitors may be subject to a Two-Year Home Residency Requirement and are not eligible for the H-1B status until the requirement has been satisfied or waived by the USCIS based on a recommendation from the U.S. Department of State. If this two-year requirement does not apply, you are eligible for H-1B status if you meet other eligibility requirements.


What is the role of an attorney in the H-1B petition process?

An attorney can help you and the employer present the best case for approval of the H-1B status application to the USCIS. In many cases, an attorney may be able to determine in advance whether your position and credentials would qualify for an H-1B.


What status would my spouse and children have when I am granted H-1B Status?

Dependents of H-1B status holders (legal spouse and children under age 21) can apply for H-4 status. H-4 status holders are not eligible to work except in limited situations.