H1-B for Speciality Occupation

Graduate level workers wanting to work in the US are able to apply for a H1-B visa for speciality occupations. This enables US companies to employ foreign skilled workers for in-demand jobs such as in IT, medicine, finance, engineering and numerous other speciality occupations that are highly valued in the US. H1-B visas are valid for three years, with extensions possible, providing that the terms are still valid, i.e. you are still working in the role.
In some circumstances, work experience or alternative qualifications to a degree can be considered when granting a H1-B visa for speciality occupations. Applications for the H1-B visa are limited, which makes it more difficult to get one granted. Each year just 85,000 new H1-B visas are available for US companies to apply for, in line with current immigration laws.

Which jobs are classed as speciality occupations?

The job must have a minimum requirement for a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent). This requirement must be common
to the industry and where the job can only be performed by a graduate.

Who can apply?

  • People who have a US bachelor’s degree or higher degree that is required by the speciality occupation you are applying for.
  • Anyone with a foreign degree that is classed as the equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree, when required for the speciality occupation.
  • If you have education or experience that is equivalent to a degree that demonstrate your expertise in the speciality occupation.

Taking your family and dependants

If you successfully get granted a H-1B visa, then you will also currently be eligible to take your spouse and children (aged under 21) to live with you whilst you work in your speciality occupation in the US. They will be granted H-4 visas, which will enable children to attend schools.
The US Department of Homeland Security has been reviewing the H4 visa and spouse employment eligibility, so it is important to check the latest information regarding this before applying for a H-1B visa.
Green Cards
It is worth noting that H1-B holders are also able to apply for a Green Card such as EB2 or EB3. These are intended for people that have developed an even more valuable set of skills during their work whilst holding their H1-B visas.
The H1-B application process
The first step is to find a H1-B sponsor that is employing for the role that you have the required degree in. If you are successful in your job application, then the company will submit a Labor Conditions Approval (LCA) to the government.
If the LCA is approved, then the employer will then complete a Form I-129 which is a Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker (this can take a while to get processed). Once this is approved, the applicant must attend the their home country’s US embassy to process their visa.

Other Visas

E2 Visa (Investors and Employees)

The E2 visa is available for application from non-immigrants to enter the US when they are investing a substantial amount of money in a US business. Employees for the investment company may also be allowed to have an E2 visa to assist with the investment process e.g. advising on the investment.

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B-2 for pleasure or for medical treatment

The B-2 visa enables tourists to enter the US, where an ESTA is not applicable either because the applicant is not from one the Visa Waiver Program countries, or because their intended trip is for longer than the duration limit of the ESTA (90 days). The B2 visa is often referred to as the tourist visa USA and can also be used for travellers that are going to the US to receive medical treatment.

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L-1 for company transfers

The L-1 visa is available for a US company to transfer an employee from an office in another country to go and work in their office in the US. It can also be used for when companies are looking to open a US operation to move executives and managers over to.

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