How do H1B Visas Work?

Posted on July 10, 2015 by Aman Shah

One of the most popular nonimmigrant visa categories for working professionals is the H1B, which enables individuals from outside of the U.S. to come to the country for a temporary time period, and only where a prospective job opportunity exists. In particular, the holder may stay in the U.S. for a period of 6 years, provided that the person maintains employment with the sponsoring employer. Here's the key point: no ordinary job will meet the H1B requirement. The applicant must prove that the prospective job opportunity is in a "specialty occupation" category.

So what constitutes a "specialty occupation"? A specialty occupation is defined as a practice requiring a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in an area involving the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge. In everyday terms, this basically means that the H1B is reserved for people with college degrees in advanced areas of practice, such as engineering, software engineering, computer sciences, medicine, and law.

USCIS uses a lottery process and accepts 65,000 H1B applications per year, with an additional 20,000 applications by way of a graduate degree exemption. The H1B application acceptance process begins April 1st for October 1st job start dates, and the approval process is extremely competitive. In 2015, there were more than 172,000 H1B applications, which means that nearly 2/3 of applicants were rejected via the lottery process.

For more information on H1B visas, feel free to contact the Law Office of Aman N. Shah at 714-312-3974.