What Is the H-1B Visa?

Last Updated on March 15, 2024

What is the H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is designated for individuals working in a specialty occupation, which is defined as a position requiring at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific or related field (or its equivalent) and that the foreign national being sponsored has at least a bachelor’s degree in that specific or related field (or its equivalent).

Examples of Specialty Occupations:

  • Biotechnology
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Computer Sciences
  • Management
  • Medicine
  • Many more

Do I Qualify for the H-1B?

To qualify for the H-1B, the proposed position for the individual must require at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific or related field (or its equivalent).

In addition, individuals must have completed a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a field of study related to the position. If the individual obtained the degree overseas, or it is not a four-year bachelor’s degree, an education evaluation must be completed to verify that through education or experience the individual has the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.

The salary for the position must meet minimum prevailing wage requirements.

How Long Can I Stay in the U.S. If I Have an H-1B?

The initial period of stay for an H-1B visa holder in the U.S. is typically three years.

After the initial period of stay, the employer may file a renewal or extension for the H-1B employee. This should extend the stay by up to three more years. H-1B visa holders may stay in the U.S. for six years in H-1B nonimmigrant status.

H-1B and Green Card

H-1B holders who have completed select portions of the green card application process may be able to extend their status beyond the six-year max-out date.

We recommend that you speak to your attorney if the temporary nature of the assignment changes.

How Much Does the H-1B Cost?

As of 2023, these are the current H-1B fees:

    • Petition filing fee: $460 – $2,640
  • Premium Processing: Employers can choose to pay the $2,500 premium processing fee when available. USCIS will adjudicate the H-1B petition—meaning they will approve, issue a request for evidence or deny the petition—within 15 calendar days.

What is the H-1B Lottery?

Most first-time H-1B petitions are subject to the annual visa lottery. Each year, the government issues 85,000 total visas. This number is broken down into two groups: 20,000 H-1B visas are reserved for individuals with a master’s degree or higher and 65,000 are for all others that qualify.

To enter into the H-1B lottery, employers must enter an employee or candidate into the H-1B electronic registration system and pay an associated $10 registration fee.

What is the H-1B Registration Timeline?

For FY 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) used the following dates during H-1B registration:

  • February 21: Petitioners and registrants can begin creating H-1B registrant accounts at noon Eastern.
  • March 1: H-1B registration period opens at noon Eastern.
  • March 20: H-1B registration period closes at noon Eastern.
  • March 31: Date by which USCIS intends to notify selected registrants.
  • April 1: This is the earliest date that FY 2024 H-1B cap-subject petitions may be filed.

Please note that dates may change during future H-1B cap seasons.

What is H-1B Cap Exemption?

The sponsored position must be one of the following in order to qualify for an exemption from the H-1B cap lottery:

  • Institutions of higher education.
  • Non-profit research organizations.
  • Government research organizations.
  • Primary or secondary education institutions.
  • Non-profit entities that engage in established curriculum-related clinical training.

Additional examples where cap exemption applies include petitions for changes of employer, an extension with the same employer, amendment petitions with no request for extension and corrections of a previously approved H-1B of service errors. These situations typically arise when the H-1B nonimmigrant has already received H-1B nonimmigrant status through the cap lottery process.

Envoy Global can help you navigate H-1B cap season and other immigration matters by combining top immigration law firms and a robust technology platform. If you’re seeking to simplify your company’s immigration program, contact us to learn more.

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If the foreign national is outside the U.S., they likely will need to apply for a visa to enter the U.S. in the specific visa category prior to entering the U.S. in the specific status. 

Envoy is pleased to provide you with this information, which was prepared in Corporate Immigration Partners, P.C., a U.S. law firm who provides services through the Envoy Platform (the “U.S. Law Firm”).  

Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Envoy is not a law firm, and does not provide legal advice. If you would like guidance on how this information may impact your particular situation and you are a client of the U.S. Law Firm, consult your attorney. If you are not a client of the U.S. Law Firm working with Envoy, consult another qualified professional. This website does not create an attorney-client relationship with the U.S. Law Firm.