H-1B Visa/Status—Specialty Occupations
Basic Requirements for H-1B Visa/Status:
For individuals who can fill a specialty occupation (more commonly referred to as a professional occupation), H-1B visas/statuses are available. To be eligible for this visa/status, a job offer must already be in place for a position that requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the employer offering the position must pay the prevailing wage for the position that is offered to the H-1B applicant.
Only 65,000 applicants are granted the H-1B visa/status every fiscal year, which begins for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the first day of October. With that in mind, H-1B applications may be filed up to six months in advance of the beginning of the USCIS fiscal year, April 1.
In 2007, there were more than double the number of applicants than positions available. On the first day of the USCIS fiscal year in 2008, again, far more applications were received than the available number of H-1B visas/statuses. In both 2007 and 2008, petitions for the H-1B visa/status were selected by lottery. Though there was a significant reduction in the number of petitions in 2009 due to economic slowdown, it is expected that the cap will again become a problem when the economy fully rebounds.
However, it should be noted that not all H-1B visa/status applications are subject to the annual cap. For instance, individuals who already have the H-1B visa/status and are looking to extend their stay will not be counted toward the cap. Additionally, individuals who are employed by some universities, university-affiliated organizations, and non-profit organizations may not be restricted by the cap. Finally, those individuals who hold post-secondary degrees (master’s or better) from an institution in the U.S. will also be subject to a higher cap level.
Duration of H-1B Status:
Initially, the H-1B status is available for up to three years. However, an individual may extend his or her H-1B status up to a total of six years provided the individual’s specialty occupation continues and the employer continues to be capable of compensating the prevailing wage.
Under some circumstances, individuals who hold H-1B status may obtain an extension beyond the sixth year if they hold labor certification (PERM), employment-based permanent residency, or an application for the adjustment of status that has been pending for more than a year. In those cases, H-1B status may be extended one year at a time.
Immediate family members—a spouse and any child who is younger than 21 and unmarried—of the primary beneficiary will be eligible for H-4 derivative status. As such, family members will be allowed to accompany primary beneficiary of the H-1B status into the U.S. Furthermore, anyone holding the H-4 status may attend schools in the U.S.
When applying for the H-1B status, the Austin immigration attorneys at the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC typically charge the following attorney’s fees when filing in the United States at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (please take a moment to look over this disclaimer), along with the fees currently charged by the USCIS to file an application:
- $5,000 in attorney’s fees for the principal beneficiary petition ($3,000 for renewals)
- $460 to pay the filing fee for the main petition with the USCIS
- $370 to pay the filing fee for the family’s application with the USCIS (when applicable)
- $750 to pay for the USCIS Data Collection Fee ($1,500 when the hiring company has 25 or more employees)
- $500 to pay for the USCIS Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee (associated with the initial petition)
- Approximately $105 to pay for the Degree Evaluation (when experience evaluation is required, the charge will be significantly higher)
- $1,225 to pay the USCIS filing fee for premium processing (this is optional)
Consult with an Immigration Attorney in Austin:
At the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC, our Austin immigration attorneys are well experienced with the representation of clients applying for the H-1B status. To discuss how we may be of service to you with one of our Austin immigration attorneys, please call our Austin offices at (512) 323-2333 today.