Key Facts About H-1B Visas

H-1B visas are used by U.S. employers to temporarily bring in skilled foreign workers who match precise requirements for specific, or speciality occupations. There can be a lot of mis-information about who qualifies and exactly how it works, so here at The Move to America, is a brief break down of some important key facts.

All relevant information can be found via the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but here are some basics about the H-1B visa

1. Applications (petitions) are opened 6 months before the start of the U.S. government fiscal year (October 1st) so you can apply for an H-1B petition from April 1st

2. The USCIS categorises speciality occupations as those that require a Bachelor’s degree or higher

U.S. businesses use the H-1B visa program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, including but not limited to scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. (USCIS)

3. Other requirements can include 12 years of relevant work experience, or a mix of work experience and current studying at university/college if no Bachelor’s degree or higher is held

4. There is a 12-point system that must be met to determine if an applicant is able to apply for an H-1B visa. 1 year of further/higher education at university or college is equal to 3 points, and 1 year of relevant work experience is equal to 1 point

4 year Bachelor’s degree = 12 points
12 years work experience = 12 points
1 year of Bachelor’s degree + 9 years work experience = 12 points

5. There is a cap on how many H-1B visas are allowed per fiscal year with 20,000 being set aside specifically for applicants who earned a Master’s Degree (or higher) in the U.S. – and 65,000 for those who work in the specialised fields, but gained their degree (Bachelor’s, or higher), outside of the U.S.

6. H-1B visas typically last 3 years but an extension after the initial 3 years can be granted (for another 3 years)

7. For exact and detailed information about the forms, fees, paperwork and U.S. Consulate Office interview that accompanies the H-1B visa process, visit the USCIS website

EXTRA INFO REGARDING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION POLICY CHANGES: USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Starting April 3rd 2017 Petitions

If you have any questions about the H-1B visa process, or other general query, feel free to contact The Move to America – or if you have recently been through the H-1B process yourself, be sure to leave a comment to share your experience and top tips!


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