H-1B Employer Sponsored US Work PermitGenerally, the H-1B visa is designed to enable US employers hire foreign workers in specialty occupations on a temporary basis. A specialty occupation is one that requires the following:
- the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and
- the attainment of a bachelor or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States of America.
The employer must have a US taxpayer identification number. Thus, a foreign business with no US presence cannot use this visa. The employer must sponsor or file the H-1B application and therefore needs to document that the position is a specialty occupation. Further, the employer must maintain wage and hour records and information concerning working conditions for all similarly situated employees.
What Must the US Employer Do?
The potential employee must show that s/he is qualified for the specialty occupation and that his or her degree or work experience is equivalent to a US bachelor degree, and that this background is relevant to the US position.
What Must the H-1B Employee Do?
The H-1B visa can initially be issued for 3 years and be extended for another 3 years (total 6 years). Note that H-1B employees could potentially become US legal permanent residents (green card holders).
How Long Can H-1B Employees Stay in the US?
Each H-1B case must be well documented with supporting evidence proving that all legal requirements are met. The employer’s first step is to obtain an approved Labor Condition Application, which describes the position and the salary and also contains various attestations by the US employer. The employer then files a petition with the Citizenship and Immigration Services at one of the four regional Service Centers. Once this is approved, the next step is normally for the candidate to obtain an H-1B visa from the applicable US Consulate or Embassy. Dependents of the H-1B holder (spouses and children) may obtain H-4 visas that will allow them to stay in the US with the H-1B visa holder.