H1B Visa Program
The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology, and fields such as teaching and accounting.
For more information about the H-1B program, Click Here.Specialty Occupations
The H1-B visa category applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.
Foreign workers usually work in STEM fields as scientists, engineers, programmers. Fashion models also belong to the category H-1B. Your H1B spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in the H-4 nonimmigrant classification.
H1-B visa quota caps are quickly used up within days of release on April 1st of each year. For 2018 Congress mandated a regular cap of 65,000 H1 B visas and a further H1B Master's Exemption cap of 20,000 visas available for Master's degree or higher applicants.
Congress caps the quantity of H-1B visas that can be issued each year as follows:
- H-1B Regular Cap: 65,000 (Less the Chile-Singapore Cap)
- H-1B Master's Exemption: 20,000 (Requires a U.S. Master's degree or higher)
- Chile-Singapore Cap: 6,800 (Deducted from the Regular Cap as used under the U.S. Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements)
The United States Citizen and Immigration Services officially announced on April 11, 2019 that the H-1B lottery was completed for fiscal year 2019-20. 201,011 petitions were received from the beginning of the season (April 1st) to the official completion date on April 5th, making this one of the largest H-1B pools since the beginning of the lottery. On April 11th, the computer-generation selection process picked at random the designated number of petitions to meet the cap.
The number of petitions received during the 2019-2020 H-1B season was significantly higher than the number of petitions received in the previous season (just over to 190,000). We have the full info on last year’s results as well as some information on your H-1B chances in 2020-2021 season in this post.Cap-exempt H1B visa for specialty occupations
Congress has carved out exemptions from H-1B cap limitations for workers employed at certain qualifying institutions. These institutions are free to employ as many H-1B workers that otherwise qualify. The USCIS definition ofcap-exempt employers includes workers employed by or at:
- Higher education institutions
- Non-profits related to or affiliated with higher education institutions
- Nonprofit research or governmental research organizations
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started accepting H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2020 cap on April 1, 2019 for 2020. Once an H-1B petition subject to the cap is filed, it must be selected by USCIS under a random lottery. This is because there is greater demand than there are visa numbers, so initial selection is done on the basis of a random lottery. If one’s H-1B petition is selected, it will then be adjudicated on the merits. The earliest date employment can begin is October 1, 2020.
There are changes to H-1B program, including:
- the order in which visas will be issued (i.e., graduates with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions of higher education will be selected first, over those with bachelor’s degrees);
- premium processing will be offered in a two-phased approach; and
- there is a new H-1B Employer Data Hub (click here) where one can see who is requesting H-1B visas for professional workers.
Click here for more information about the H-1B FY 2020 Cap Season.
For next year’s program, there will be a registration system in place. Click here to read more about the electronic registration program for fiscal year 2021.
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