The United States sets aside a certain number of visas each year for highly-specialized professionals from Chile and Singapore. Due to a free trade agreement, certain specialized professionals from Chile and Singapore can work temporarily in the United States on an H-1B1 visa.

The H-1B1 visa is similar to an H-1B visa and other work visas: it allows the visa holder to live and work in the United States temporarily in a specialized profession. If you can perform a job that requires specialized training, education, or qualifications, then you may qualify for an H-1B1 visa.

You need to be a citizen of Chile or Singapore to qualify for the H-1B1 visa. Below, we’ll list further requirements for the H-1B1 application process.

What is the H-1B1 Visa?

The H-1B1 visa was created in 2004 when the United States signed a free trade agreement with Chile and Singapore. This agreement allows Chilean and Singaporean nationals to work in the United States under the H-1B1 visa program. You must have a Chilean or Singaporean passport to qualify for the H-1B1 visa.

Like the H-1B visa, the H-1B1 visa has a set number of visas available to be awarded every year. 1,400 visas are available to Chilean nationals while 5,400 are available to Singaporean nationals for a total of 6,800 H-1B1 visas awarded each year.

Who Qualifies the H-1B1 Visa?

The H-1B1 visa, like the H-1B visa, is designed to bring employees with specialized knowledge, training, education, or experience to the United States. You might qualify for the H-1B1 visa if you have specialized experience in any of the following fields:

  • Mathematics
  • Arts
  • Computing
  • Engineering
  • Healthcare
  • Business
  • STEM fields

To have “specialized experience” in any of the above fields, you may be required to have a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree. If you do not have a formal degree, then you will need to prove that you have specialized training or experience in the field.

Those with extensive training and experience in certain fields will qualify for the H-1B1 visa, depending on their country of origin.

Citizens of Chile, for example, may qualify for two additional positions with the H-1B1 visa program, including:

  • Agricultural Manager
  • Physical Therapist

Citizens of either Chile or Singapore, meanwhile, may qualify for the following positions under the H-1B1 visa program:

  • Disaster Relief Claims Adjuster
  • Management Consultant

What’s the Difference Between an H-1B1 and an H-1B Visa?

The H-1B1 visa and H-1B visa are similar, but there are certain important differences between the two, including:

  • The H-1B1 visa is only available to citizens of Chile or Singapore, while the H-1B visa is available to those of any nationality
  • The H-1B1 visa is not petition-based, which means employers do not have to file form I-129 with USCIS
  • The H-1B1 visa applicant does not necessarily need to have a license to practice his or her profession if a license is not required
  • H-1B1 visa holders are not able to apply for a U.S. green card (permanent resident status) while in the United States, although H-1B visa holders can apply for a green card
  • H-1B1 visa holders need to prove that they plan to return to their country of origin once their visa expires

H-1B1 Visa Requirements

The H-1B1 visa applicant and the H-1B1 visa employer must both meet certain requirements in order to qualify.

Requirements for H-1B1 Visa Employers

Employers need to file certain documents and meet certain requirements to qualify as an H-1B1 visa employer:

  • Offer a job to a citizen of Chile or Singapore, with that job requiring specialized skills, training, or experience
  • Obtain a Labor Condition Application from the U.S. Department of Labor; the LCA guarantees that the H-1B1 visa holder will receive a fair wage, have a safe working environment, and have a transparent job description
  • Provide company information to the U.S. Department of Labor regarding the number of employees, employee job descriptions, income, etc.
  • Payment of applicable fees, including all of the same fees as the H-1B visa except for the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee (although premium processing is not available with the H-1B1 visa)
  • Copy of the passport of the H-1B1 visa applicant proving that the applicant is a citizen of Chile or Singapore

Requirements for H-1B1 Visa Applicants

Visa applicants, on the other hand, are also required to abide by certain requirements, including:

  • Proof of professional qualifications, including specialized education, training, skills, or experience
  • Proof that you intend to return to your home country (Chile or Singapore) once your H-1B1 visa expires
  • Proof that you do not intend to work as a freelancer or contractor while in the United States
  • Proof of an employment offer within the United States, including a letter from your employer stating the job description, responsibilities, and salary

How to Apply for an H-1B1 Visa

Once you’re ready to move forward with the H-1B1 visa application process, you’ll find the process moves forward similar to other U.S. non-immigrant visas. Here’s the specific process:

Step 1) Complete Form DS-160: Form DS-160 is the standard non-immigrant visa application form. You can find the form at your local U.S. embassy’s website, where it’s available in a number of different languages. Complete the form accurately.

Step 2) Schedule your Interview: Once you have submitted Form DS-160, you will need to schedule an interview with your local U.S. embassy or consulate.

Step 3) Collect your Documents: As an H-1B1 visa applicant, you must bring certain documents to your interview, including a valid passport, a letter offering you a job in the United States, your visa interview appointment letter, a recent photograph that meets visa requirements, your DS-160 form confirmation page, and the LCA certification document from the Department of Labor for your employer.

Step 4) Attend the Interview: Attend the interview at your local U.S. embassy or consulate. You may have your fingerprints taken prior to the interview (say, if this is your first time visiting the United States). The interviewer will ask questions to verify the information on your application, including details of your job and your plans to return home after your H-1B1 visa concludes.

How Long Does It Take to Process an H-1B1 Visa?

Processing times for H-1B1 visas vary widely depending on the workload of the U.S. embassies in Singapore or Santiago. Sometimes, the H-1B1 visa can be processed in as little as 3 to 5 weeks. In other cases, it can take as long as 3 to 6 months.

The H-1B1 visa, unlike the H-1B visa, does not come with a premium processing option. There’s no option to pay an extra fee for faster processing.

Can I Extend My H-1B1 Visa?

The H-1B1 visa typically lasts for 12 to 18 months, unlike an H-1B visa that lasts for 3 years.

H-1B1 visa applicants can extend their visa for up to one-year, and there is no limit on the number of times you can extend the visa. As long as you are legally working in the United States for a qualified employer and plan to return to Chile or Singapore in the future, you can continue working in the United States under the H-1B1 visa.

To renew your H-1B1 visa for one more year, your employer will need to file and receive form I-797A while also providing proof of LCA certification.

Can I Transfer My H-1B1 Visa?

You can transfer your H-1B1 visa to a new employer. You will need to transfer your H-1B1 visa when moving between employers.

If you wish to transfer your visa, then your new employer will need to obtain LCA certification and receive a form I-797A. Alternatively, you may wish to return to your home country temporarily and repeat the application process with your new employer – say, if there’s a large gap between your jobs with the two employers.

Can I Bring Dependents to the United States with an H-1B1 Visa?

The H-1B1 visa has the same dependency allotments as an ordinary H work visa for the United States. You can bring the following two groups to the United States under a dependency visa:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under age 21

These two groups qualify for a special H-4 visa. The H-4 visa, if granted, will be valid throughout the length of your employment in the United States. Your spouse and children do not have to be citizens of Chile and Singapore to qualify for the H-4 visa.