What Is the H-1B Visa?

What is the H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is designated for individuals working in a specialty occupation, which is defined as the 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 

H-1B Requirements 

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.  

H-1B Initial Period of Stay

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

H-1B Renewal

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. 

 

H-1B Petition and Filing Fees

As of June 2022, 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 then adjudicate the H-1B petition—meaning they are required to approve, issue a request for evidence or deny the petition—within 15 calendar days.

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.

The H-1B RegistrationTimeline

For FY 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) used the following dates during H-1B registration:

  • February 22: Petitioners and registrants can begin creating H-1B registrant accounts at noon Eastern. 
  • March 1: H-1B registration period opens at noon Eastern. 
  • March 18: H-1B registration period closes at noon Eastern. 
  • March 31: Date by which USCIS intends to notify selected registrants. 
  • April 1: The earliest date that FY 2023 H-1B cap-subject petitions may be filed.

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

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.


If the foreign national is outside the U.S., he/she 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 this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

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