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Frequently Asked Questions

In this Section

What is an H-1B?

What kinds of occupations qualify for H-1B status?

Who is eligible to obtain H-1B status?

Is there a minimum salary for a job in H-1B status?

Can I obtain an H-1B while I'm residing outside of the U.S.?

How long is the H1B visa granted for?

What must the employer do to hire an H-1B worker?

How long does it take to obtain H-1B status?

What is H1B portability?

Are there any restrictions on portability?

What status would my spouse and children have when I am granted H-1B Status?

Can an H-4 status holder work?

What is H-1B Extension?

Why should we file the H-1B extension?

My H-1B is expiring. Is there a deadline for filing the H-1B extension?

What would happen if my H-1B extension application arrives in the USCIS office after my H-1B has expired?

How many times can my employer file H-1B renewals for me?

What is an H-1B?

The H-1B is an employer-sponsored nonimmigrant classification which allows individuals who are not citizens or Permanent Residents of the U.S. to work for up to six years in a specialty occupation.

  • "Employer-sponsored" means that the employer must apply for the H-1B on behalf of the prospective H-1B employee through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • "Specialty occupation" means a position that requires specialized knowledge and skills, and at least a bachelor's degree in that specialty. The H 1B also requires that the H-1B employer pay the H-1B employee the same or higher wage than is paid to workers in similar occupations, in the geographical area of the proposed employment.

What kinds of occupations qualify for H-1B status?
A broad range of professional occupations qualify for H-1B status. Generally, professional-level occupations in engineering, biological, physical, and social sciences, mathematics, and business administration will qualify for H-1B. A bachelor's degree is always the minimum requirement for an occupation to qualify for H-1B status, but depending on the position, an advanced degree (Master's or Ph.D.) may be necessary.

Who is eligible to obtain H-1B status?
H-1B status is available to an individual who has been offered a temporary professional position by a U.S. employer. A bachelor’s degree or higher in a related area is the minimum educational level required for a position to qualify for H-1B status, and the H-1B employee must have this degree (or higher).

Is there a minimum salary for a job in H-1B status?
Yes, the employer hiring an H-1B worker, must have documentation to prove, and then must certify to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that it will pay the H-1B employee the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher.

  • The prevailing wage is the salary paid to workers in similar occupations in the geographic area of the intended employment.
  • The actual wage is the wage that the employer pays employees in similar occupations at the location of the intended employment.
  • The employer must also certify that it is not displacing any U.S. workers to hire the H-1B applicant, and that there are no strikes or other work stoppages in the occupation in which the H-1B applicant will be employed. The employer makes these declarations, under penalty of perjury, by submitting to DOL for certification a form called a Labor Condition Application (LCA).

Can I obtain an H-1B while I'm residing outside of the U.S.?
Yes, it is possible for an employer to apply for the H-1B on your behalf while you are residing outside of the U.S.  Once approved, you would obtain the H-1B entry visa stamp at an American Consulate and enter the U.S. in that status.

How long is the H1B visa granted for?
Initially the duration is three years, and the status can be renewed for another three years.

After the six year limit, the status can be extended as follows:

  • If a Labor Condition Application (LCA) has been filed on behalf of the individual and is pending for at least 365 days as of the 6th year expiration date, one year extension will be granted; and
  • If an  I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition has been approved on behalf of the individual, then a three year extension will be granted.

H-1B Petition Process

What must the employer do to hire an H-1B worker?
After receiving the certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from Department of Labor (DOL), the employer then submits a petition (application), with supporting documentation to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

How long does it take to obtain H-1B status?
The amount of time required to obtain H-1B status varies according to circumstances at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The total processing time, including prevailing wage determination, Labor Condition Application (LCA) and USCIS processing can take as long as six months.

Change of Status

What is H1B portability?
A foreign worker previously given an H-1B status can start working for a new H-1B employer as soon as the new Employer files an H-1B petition on his/her behalf.

Are there any restrictions on portability?
The beneficiary should have been lawfully admitted into the US, should continue to be in legal status while the H-1B petition is filed, and there should not be any violations such as unlawful employment.

Dependent Family Members on H-4

What status would my spouse and children have when I am granted H-1B Status?
Dependents of H-1B status holders (legal spouse and children under age 21) can apply for H-4 status.

Can an H-4 status holder work?
H-4 status holders are not eligible to work.

H-1B Extensions

What is H-1B Extension?
H-1B Extension is the application filed by the employer for its current foreign national employees who are working in the H-1B nonimmigrant status and the validity dates on the H-1B approval notice are expiring.

Why should we file the H-1B extension?
Each H-1B approval notice is valid for the period specified by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the approval notice and the beneficiary (foreign worker) can work for the sponsoring employer only when the H-1B approval notice is still valid. If the employment opportunity is still available to the foreign worker (the employer desires to continue the employment of the foreign worker), the H-1B extension application must be filed and accepted by USCIS before the H-1B worker can continue to work for the employer. If the H-1B extension application is not filed with USCIS on or after the expiration date of the H-1B approval notice, the foreign worker cannot continue to work for the employer.

My H-1B is expiring. Is there a deadline for filing the H-1B extension?
Yes. The extension must be filed to and accepted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before or on the expiration date.

What would happen if my H-1B extension application arrives in the USCIS office after my H-1B has expired?
It is very likely that you will be required to leave the U.S. and apply for the H-1B visa stamping at a U.S. Consulate overseas before you can return to the U.S.

How many times can my employer file H-1B renewals for me?
There is no limit. Your employer can file as many renewals for you as necessary. The maximum period for your H-1B status is 6 years within which your employer can file the extensions/renewals for you. If you do not start the permanent residence application (green card application) during the six years of H-1B status or if your permanent residence application has not been pending for one year when your H-1B status reaches the maximum six years, your employer cannot continue the extension. However if your permanent residence application has been pending for more than one year when your H-1B expires, your employer can file H-1B extensions for you until US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes the final decision on your permanent residence application.