H1B Visa

The H1B Visa is the main visa allowing individuals from across the world to work in the US.

What is an H1B visa?

All foreign nationals are required to gain permission to work legally in the US.

The H1B visa is the most popular route to work in the US. It allows US companies to employ graduate-level workers in occupations that require specialist skills and expertise in fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine.

The US employer files for the H1B Visa in the US, which has a duration of up to 6 years.

A key benefit of the H1B visa is that, unlike many other US visas, holders can become eligible to apply for a green card.

It is important to note the H1B visa class is capped. Allocations are quickly taken up by companies bringing in employees for long-term assignment in the US. Seek advice from an immigration specialist to understand all appropriate immigration options open to you and your employees, such as the L1 visa, E1 visa, E2 visa, among many others.

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Our legal experts are highly experienced in all areas of US immigration, including H1Bvisa applications. We have helped individuals from the UK, mainland Europe and across the globe secure entry to the US through the H1B visa. For advice and guidance on your application, please get in touch.

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Your questions answered

What is the H1B visa application process?

You aren’t able to apply directly for an H-1B visa as an individual. Your employer must petition for entry on your behalf.

What are the criteria for the H1B visa?

The H1B visa is open to professional level ‘speciality’ occupations that require employees to have a bachelors degree or higher.

If you do not have a bachelors degree or higher you may be able to show degree equivalence through work experience and/or other qualifications.

To be eligible, you must work in a ‘specialty occupation’, which include:

IT, Computing, Finance, Accounting, Banking, Marketing, Advertising, PR, Sales, Recruiting, Engineering (all types), Teaching, HealthCare/Medical, Legal, Lawyers, Networking, Telecoms, Business, Management and Hospitality.

How long is the H1B visa valid for?

An H1B visa is typically valid for up to six (6) years

Can I bring dependants with me on the H1B visa?

You are permitted to bring your spouse and dependent children (under the age of 21) with you to the US on an H4 visa. The H4 dependent visa does not allow your spouse or children to work. They require their own H1B visa to undertake paid employment in the US.

What is the capped limit for H1B visas? 

The H1B visa is capped annually at 65,000 visas per fiscal year for overseas workers in specialty (professional) level occupations.
An additional 20,000 visas are available for specialty workers with an advanced degree from a US academic institution.
The US Government’s fiscal year starts on Oct. 1. H1B visa petitions can be filed up to 6 months before the employee’s intended start date, which is generally April 1 for an October 1 start date.
The capped allocation is typically oversubscribed. It is important to plan ahead for any H1B petitions. For example, employers can apply after April 2, 2017 for the 2018 cap, but the employee cannot start work until October 1, 2017. We also recommend exploring alternative immigration options in the event the H1B application is refused.

How long can I stay in the US under the H1B visa? 

The H1B visa is initially granted for up to three years. It may then be extended to a maximum of six years.

A key benefit of the H1B visa is that it operates as a ‘dual intent’ visa. This means you are permitted to apply for a green card while on the H1B visa, should you wish to remain in the US for more than six years.

Note however that if your green card application is unsuccessful, you must leave the US before visa expiry and live outside the US for at least one year before reapplying for another H or L visa.

Is travel limited under the H1B visa? 

You are able to travel in and out of USA for any number of times within the specified visa validity period.

My circumstances have changes – will this affect my H1B visa status? 

You are able to transfer to a new employer under the H1B visa. Your future H1B employer must file a new Form I-129 petition on your behalf before you being working for them.

A merger or sale of your employer’s business will not usually affect your status.

However, you may be in violation of your visa status if there is a change in the nature of the work you perform other than that permitted under your H1B visa, ie if you work in a capacity other than the specialty occupation petitioned for.