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U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to temporarily employ foreign workers in a specialty occupation that requires theoretical or technical expertise in a certain field, such as science, engineering or computer programming.

  • Employer sponsored work visa that allows foreigners to work on a temporary basis in the U.S. in a specialty occupation.

  • Beneficiary must have a Bachelor's Degree (or equivalent).

  • Allows someone to work for a company in a “specialty occupation” with an entry-level requirement of a Bachelor’s Degree (or equivalent) which is directly related to the professional position offered.

  • Six-year maximum stay (with exceptions).


Petitions that are not counted towards the regular H-1B cap:

  • Approximately 5000 is set aside for Chile/Singapore nationals

  • Separate 20,000 cap for graduates with US Masters degree

  • Cap exempt employers: institution of higher education, nonprofit/governmental research organization

  • Beneficiary previously granted H-1B status in the last 6 years


Employers’ requirements:

  • Must sign petition submitted to USCIS

  • Employer must agree to pay “prevailing wage”

  • Labor Condition Application (LCA) is required which is processed by DOL

  • Must maintain “public access file” which supports attestations made on the LCA

  • Must agree to pay costs of reasonable return trip home if terminated prior to H-1B end date

  • Must notify USCIS of early termination of H-1B worker

  • etc.


Process of preparing an H-1B application:

  • Obtain LCA from the Department of Labor

  • Submit detailed petition and necessary forms and supporting documents to USCIS

  • Usually takes 3-6 months for USCIS to review

  • Premium processing can expedite processing


Application Fees:

  • $ 1500/$750 ACWIA Fee (paid by employer) (not necessary if cap exempt employer)

  • $ 500 Anti-Fraud Fee

  • $ 460 USCIS Filing Fee

  • $ 1,225 Premium Processing Fee (optional)

  • Additional filing fees for dependent family members


Speciality Occupation examples:

  • Software Engineer – degree in Computer Science, Engineering discipline

  • Financial Analyst – degree in Economics, Business Administration, etc.

  • Market Research Analyst – degree in Marketing, Business Administration, etc.

  • Human Resources Manager – degree in business disciplines, Psychology, Sociology

  • Graphic Designer – degree in Design, Arts, etc.

  • Accountant – degree in Accounting, Finance, etc.

  • Fashion Designer – degree in Arts, Fashion Design, etc.

Relevant Article:

The Latest Updates on FY2020 H-1B Application Processing







Joseph Hamel

Senior Associate


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