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H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa

The H-1B non-immigrant visa category allows workers with a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent to work in the U.S. in occupations requiring specialized knowledge. The total number of H-1B visas issued annually is subject to a numerical cap. Common H-1B occupations include accountants, engineers, teachers, physicians, and certain jobs related to information technology and computer programming.

An H-1B visa holder may be granted an initial period of stay in the U.S. for up to three years. Extensions of stay may be granted for a total stay of up to six years and longer if the H-1B worker meets certain requirements under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act.

The petitioning employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor attesting to certain conditions prior to filing the H-1B petition.

The petitioning employer must pay the employee the prevailing wage or more for the underlying position.

The offered position must be a specialty occupation ,meaning the position usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

The employee must be qualified for the specialty occupation position, in that the employee has the required degree and/or the appropriate years of relevant work experience.

The U.S. Government issues 65,000 H-1B visas each fiscal year with an additional 20,000 visas available for individuals who hold advanced degrees from an accredited U.S. educational institution. This is commonly referred to as the “Cap”.

The government starts to accept Cap petitions on April 1st for employment to begin on October 1st of the same year.

Petitions not subject to the Cap are employment with certain universities (and their affiliated institutions), non-profit research, organizations, and government research institutions.

Prior to filing the H-1B petition, the prospective employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor.

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