U.S. Visas: H-1B Exempt
The H-1B (Exempt) visa is used for workers in specialty occupations i.e. professional occupations, as defined below, who are not subject to the U.S. government’s numerical cap on H-1B workers. This includes employees of higher education institutions and non-profit and government research organizations.
VISANOW can prepare and submit the H-1B visa petition if the H-1B Beneficiary is presently in the U.S. in valid status or if the Beneficiary is outside the U.S.
An H-1B specialty occupation must meet the following three requirements:
- Require theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge;
- Require attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent in the specific specialty; and,
- Any one, or more, of the following:
- A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
- The degree requirement is common to the industry or, the position is so complex or unique that the work only can be performed by an individual with a degree
- The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or
- The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor or higher degree.
An H-1B Beneficiary must either have a Bachelor’s degree or higher in the specialty field or its equivalent in work experience (3 years of work experience is equal to 1 year of education). Additionally, the Beneficiary must have a state license to practice in the occupation if such is required.
In order to qualify for an exemption from the H-1B cap, the employee must either:
- Work for an institution of higher education
- Work for a non-profit research organization
- Work for a government research organization
- Work for a primary or secondary education institution
- Work for a non-profit entity that engages in an established curriculum-related clinical training
- Be filing for the SECOND extension with the SAME employer
- Be filing to request an amendment to a petition without a request for an extension; or
- Be filing in order to correct a service error.
An H-1B Beneficiary is initially admitted to the U.S. for up to three years. This 3 year period may be extended for an additional three years for up to a total of 6 years. Please note that this 6 year limit on H-1B status can be extended if the Beneficiary has progressed to a certain stage of the green card process.
VISANOW can also prepare the H-1B extension on behalf of the petitioning employer and the foreign national Beneficiary.
The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000. There are an additional 20,000 H-1B visas available for individual with Master’s degrees, or higher, from U.S. academic institutions.
H-1B (exempt) visa petitions are not subject to the annual cap. It is important to note that when an H-1B visa holder is transferring from cap exempt employment (i.e. working for a non-profit research organization) to non-cap exempt employment, that visa petition will be subject to the cap.