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H-1B Visa – US Visa for Specialized Professionals

The H-1B Visa is available to foreign nationals who perform services in a specialty occupation. The term “specialty occupation” is made up of two criteria: 1) the occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and 2) the occupation requires at least a bachelor’s degree in the relevant field. It should be noted that there is an annual limit on the amount of H-1B work permits issued and that employers must obtain an Approved Labor Certification from the Department of Labor as part of the process.


Professionals in the following fields are well-suited for the H-1B Visa category, this list not exhaustive.


  1. Accounting
  2. Architecture
  3. Arts
  4. Business Specialties
  5. Education
  6. Engineering
  7. Law
  8. Mathematics
  9. Medicine and Health
  10. Physical Sciences
  11. Social Sciences
  12. Theology


So, if you have a bachelor’s degree in one of the above fields and a job offer, then an H-1B may be right for you! H-1Bs can be valid for up to 3 years (and extended for an additional 3), and spouses and children of those in H-1B status may be granted dependent status as well. A valuable benefit of the H-1B Visa is what is known as “dual intent” – which allows the H-1B Visa holder to simultaneously pursue a green card. As such, H-1B’s are a popular first step towards a green card.


H-1B Visa: Regular Cap vs. Masters Cap


The annual numerical limitation set by Congress on new H-1B cases is 65,000 for the regular cap and 20,000 exemptions for a U.S. master’s degree. To qualify for the master’s exemption, you must have a U.S. master’s degree from an institute of higher education and completed all degree requirements at the time the petition is filed.


H-1B Visa: Electronic Registration Process


Electronic registration was initially announced by USCIS on May 2011. However, it was only in January 2019 that DHS published the final rule establishing the system. The system was suspended for FY2020, while USCIS ensured it functioned properly. The system was officially in place as of FY2021.


All petitioners who file cap subject petitions must electronically register during the designated period. The period is a minimum of 14 calendar days in early March. Once the 14-day period has closed, the selection process happens within few days thereafter. Petitioners must electronically submit a separate registration to file a petition for each beneficiary it seeks to register. A $10 filling fee is also required. The following video has further guidance regarding the H-1B Electronic Registration Process.


Other Options


While an H-1B work permit generally requires at least a bachelor’s degree, the H-2B category on the other hand is more suited for low-skilled workers. It’s mostly used by landscapers, laborers, hotel cleaners, housekeepers, cooks and construction workers who need to work in the U.S. during a particular season or otherwise temporarily.


Lastly, the H-3 category is available for those seeking entry to the U.S. to receive training that they could not otherwise get in their home country. There are two categories of H-3 Visas:


  • The first is for those receiving training in areas such as agriculture, commerce, communications, finance, government and transportation. This category does not apply to physicians seeking graduate medical education or training ­– there are other Visa options for physicians; and
  • The second is for those participating in a special education exchange visitor program that provides practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

Looking for help securing an H-1B Visa?


Silver Immigration can guide you through the process of obtaining a US work permit. Our team will help you understand your immigration needs and assist you throughout the process of successfully acquiring an H-1B Visa based on your professional specialization. To speak with an immigration lawyer, you can either complete our contact form or schedule your free consultation here.