What is an H-1B Visa?
An H-1B is a non-immigrant visa which allows a foreign worker and their family to travel to United States to work in a specialty occupation for which the worker is uniquely qualified. A U.S. employer (company) has to sponsor the foreign worker by filing a petition and attesting to the fact that the work cannot be filled by a U.S. citizen. This visa allows the foreign worker to temporarily reside in the United States for a period of 3 – 6 years. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must apply for and be granted an adjustment of status or find another employer. If this cannot be done then the foreign worker’s status will become an unlawful presence and they must leave the United States. At the Law Offices of William A. Proetta our immigration attorneys assist companies who wish to sponsor specialty workers on H-1B work visas. We also help H-1B clients seeking to a change of status to another non-immigrant status so they may continue to reside in the United States.
The regulations define a “specialty occupation” as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum. In the tri-state area, many H-1B visa holders work in the tech field as computer software engineers. Like most other visa categories, the H1-B visas operate on quotas that cap the number of foreign nationals who can be issued a H-1B visa each year at 65,000. However, the laws have many exemptions including up to 20,000 foreign nationals holding a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. university and all H-1B non-immigrants who work at (but not necessarily for) universities, non-profit research facilities associated with universities or government research facilities. These exemptions and roll-overs lead to significantly more visas issued than the 65,000 cap – with over 135,000 issued in 2012. The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) starts accepting applications on the first business day of April for visas that count against the fiscal year starting in October. For instance, H-1B visa applications that count against the 2014 cap could be submitted starting from Monday, April 1, 2013. Foreign worker petitioners are not subject to the annual cap if they currently hold H-1B status or have held H-1B status at some point in the past six years.
Adjustment of Status & Dependents of H-1B Visa Holders
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, which is recognized as a dual intent visa similar to a K-1 Fiancé Visa. This is because although the visa is temporary in nature, it has a dual purpose of becoming permanent with an adjustment of status to a green card while still holding the H-1B visa. In recent years, the employment-based immigration process has become backed up and now takes several years H-1B applicants to obtain green cards. This means that many H-1B visa holders will have to petition for extensions for themselves and their family while their green card applications are being processed. Dependents (spouses and children under 21 years) fall under the H-1B worker’s visa as an H4 visa category. An H4 visa holder may remain in the United States as long as the H-1B visa holder retains legal status. However, an H4 visa holder is not eligible to work or get a Social Security number (SSN) but they can still attend school, get a driver’s license, and open a bank account in the United States. At the Law Offices of William A. Proetta our immigration lawyers can help you apply for an adjustment of status to a Green Card as well as obtaining extensions on your H-1B while the process is ongoing. To learn more about how we can help you and your family, contact us today at (732) 450-8300.
|Adjustment of Status to Green Card||Visa vs. Green Card|
|Non-Immigrant Visa||U.S. Citizenship|
|Employer Requirements for H-1B||Removal Hearing|
|Unlawful Presence||Crime Involving Moral Turpitude|