H-1B is the most commonly used non-immigrant work visa. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues the H-1B classification to a foreign national to live and work in the United States for a temporary period in a specialty occupation or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability. A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires a minimum of a U.S. bachelor's degree or equivalent. H1B occupations include jobs in IT industry such as software engineers, computer programmers, systems analysts, network administrators, database administrators, etc.; and other jobs such as accountants, teachers, scientists, engineers, etc.
At the present time, the worldwide annual quota of H1B visas is 65,000. Out of this, 6,800 visas are reserved for persons from Singapore and Chile.
In addition, there is a special quota of 20,000 visas available for holders of master’s or higher degree from US graduate schools. Further, Petitions filed by certain exempt employers are not subject to this quota.
The total period of US stay available on H-1B status is six years. The classification is originally granted for three years, at the end of which period extension is available for a further three years. After spending six years in the US on H1B status, the foreign national must leave the US and remain overseas for one year before he/she can be given another H1B visa to enter the US again. However, if a Labor Certification application or an Employment-based immigrant visa petition filed on behalf of such person has been pending for a period of 365 days or more at the expiry of the sixth year stay, then H1B extensions beyond a period of six years will be granted without the alien having to leave the US for a one-year foreign stay.
A foreign national on H1-B classification may work only according to the conditions of the H1B Petition, and only for the sponsoring employer. However, the foreign national can work for more than one US employer concurrently, full time or part time, if such Petitions are specifically approved by USCIS.
A foreign national in the US on H1B status is eligible to travel overseas during the validity of the H1B stay, and is permitted to pursue Lawful Permanent Residence (“Green Card”) in the US.
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