An H-1B program is for foreign workers who will perform services in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation is one that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to perform the occupation and requires the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specific field, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation. An H-1B petitioner must be a United States employer. The petition must establish that an H-1B worker will perform specialty occupation work, and that the H-1B worker possesses baccalaureate or higher degree, or its equivalent, that relates to the occupation.
New H-1B petitions are subject to congressionally mandated annual numerical limitation (“H-1B cap”). Currently, the H-1B cap is at 65,000 per fiscal year. Of the 65,000, 1,400 are set aside for nationals of Chile and 5,400 for Singapore. An additional 20,000 are available to H-1B beneficiaries who graduated with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution or higher education. The H-1B fiscal year begins on October 1, with the filing period that begins on April 1. For example, the 2014 H-1B fiscal year began on October 1, 2013, with the filing period that began on April 1, 2013. Not all new H-1B petitions are subject to the H-1B cap. New H-1B petitions are exempt from the annual cap if the H-1B workers will work at institutions of higher education or related or affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations. H-1B petitions filed for H-1B workers who have been counted against the cap also do not count toward the H-1B cap.
H-1B program allows specialty occupation workers to be employed for a total of six years. Employer can request for an employment period of up to three years in each H-1B petition. Extending the H-1B employment beyond the 6-year limit is possible if certain conditions are met. H-1B employment can also be part-time. H-1B workers may also work for multiple employers, as long as each employment is authorized.
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