What Are The Types of H-1 Work Visa?

The most popular non-immigrant visas are the B and H visas from all the categories of non-immigrant visas. The B visa category is designed for travel purposes for tourism as well as business, while the H category is for temporary workers in the U.S. Around 532,832 people obtained an H visa for the U.S in 2016 according to the U.S Department of State. The number of applicants was much larger.

The numbers prove that the H visas are one of the most popular work visas in the country. The H visa is divided into few types:

The H-1 is people’s choice when it comes to going to the U.S. Just because of the high demand in the following article we will dig deeper into the procedures and details of the H-1 visa.

  • What is H-1 Visa?
  • H-1 Visa Types
  • H-1 Visa Requirements
  • H-1 Visa Application
  • H-1 Visa Processing Time
  • H-1 Visa Fees
  • H-1 Extension
  • H-1 Transfer

What is H-1 Visa?

The H-1 visa holder has the opportunity to temporarily work in the United States. The individual who has this type of visa can be employed in the U.S for a specific period of time that they have to put in their application. The maximum length of the stay for H-1 visa holder is 6 years.

Many people that are going to the U.S to work with different types of visas often stay beyond the visa expiry date working illegally. You expose yourself at risk of getting caught and getting deported, furthermore the U.S government will not give you a visa or allow you to enter the country in the future.

The benefit which H-1 visa provides is that you can work in the U.S legally and you will be a registered employee. You will not have to worry about getting caught and live in fear of being sent back to your country of origin. This is why the H-1 visa is one of the most popular visas among people who want to work in the U.S.

H-1 Visa Types

The H-1 visa also separates into a few different types, which people can apply and get. In this case, the segmentation is not done by the purpose of the travels because the applicant already has intentions of working in the U.S. The different types are based on the applicant’s field of expertise or education as well as the country of origin. The following are types of H-1 Visas:

H-1B Visas – Person in Specialty Occupation

People that will go to the U.S and work in what are called specialty occupations can obtain H-1B visas. These specialty occupations can be those that require a degree of higher education or its equivalent. This includes fields demanded by the U.S Department of Labor, such as Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral Degrees.

Furthermore, it can include occupations which require extensive training, for example, fashion models, or those occupations which have distinguished merit in the U.S. Occupations that are in a way related to government research and development of projects under the supervision of the Department of Defense, also qualify for the H-1B visa.

H-1B1 Visas – Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professionals from Chile and Singapore

The H-1B1 visas are similar to the H-1B visas, except that they are particularly designed for nationals of Chile and Singapore. With some countries, the U.S has a special Free Trade Agreement, and in this case, based on that Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the governments of Chile and Singapore, people from these countries can come to the U.S and work temporarily.

In order to qualify for the H-1B1 visa, the applicants must have secondary degrees in their field of study as well as work in specialty occupations. There is another difference between the H-1B visa and the H-1B1 visa, which is that the H-1B1 visa does not require an approved petition from the USCIS.

H-1C Visas – Foreign Registered Nurses

This type of visa is only designed for one specific field of expertise, which is nursing. Since nurses are one of the most demanded professions in the U.S and the country has a deficit of qualified workers to fill this shortage, the U.S gives H-1C visas to foreign registered nurses and allows them to work in places where there are not enough nurses. The U.S Department of Labor will determine where the nurses will work since they analyze where nurses are demanded the most.

H-4: Spouses or Children of Other H visas Holders

We have to mention the H-4 visa since many H-1 visa holders have families and want to bring them to the U.S while they are working. This visa falls into a different category from the H-1 visas. This type of visa is designed for the spouse of an H-1 visa holder and their children who are under 21 years old.

H-1 Visa Requirements

Unlike most visa application procedures, the H-1 visa is initiated by the employer and not the employee who wants to get the visa. The U.S employer needs to take the following steps in order for the H-1 visa applicant is allowed to get the job position:

File a petition (Form I-129) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

By filing this petition, the employer proves that he is looking for a person of specialized knowledge and skills and they cannot find such a person within the United States. Both the employer and the person who wants to obtain the H-1 visa cannot apply for the visa until the petition is approved. When the petition is approved, USCIS will give you Form I-797

Department of Labor certification

Certification from the U.S Department of Labor must be obtained in order to get H-1B and H-1B1 visa.

Evaluate candidates

The people who want to work in the U.S, specifically in the job position that the employer has posted, must apply for it and attach all the necessary documents. The employer must evaluate the candidates and needs to prove to the U.S government that the applicant(s) fulfill the necessary educational requirements to qualify for the H-1 visa.

Apply for the visa

After the approvals from DOL and USCIS, the employee or the individual wanting to get the U.S H-1 visa can start their application process.

H-1 Visa Application

Using the online DS-160 form the applicant can apply for H-1 visa and its types. This form, otherwise known as the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is the first step where applicants will submit their detailed information, as well as their supporting documents.

They will get a confirmation page just after completing the DS-160 form which they need to print and have with them at the interview. Your local U.S Embassy will schedule the visa interview stationed in your home country. The result of the interview, as well as the DS-160 form, will serve the U.S Embassy to make their decision about granting you the visa or not.

You must bring some required documents to the visa interview, which you submitted on the DS-160 Form or directly in the U.S Embassy:

  • The receipt number from the USCIS petition, which can be found in the I-129 form
  • The receipt that proves you have paid all the necessary fees
  • The original interview appointment letter and a copy
  • Form I-129 (original and 1 copy)
  • A valid passport for at least 6 months after your intended return from the U.S to your home country
  • A photo that you will submit in the application based on the Digital Image Requirements.
  • A letter from your employer describing your job position and their intention to hire you
  • Degree and non-degree diplomas and certifications
  • Letter from your previous employers on your employment history and skills
  • Updated Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume
  • If you are applying for an H-1B1 visa, you will also need to submit some proof that you intend to return to your home country after your visa has expired. To find out what sort of document you can submit as proof, you should contact your local U.S Embassy for more details.

H-1 Visa Fees

As in any US visa application, you will be required to pay some visa fees in order to apply for H-1 visa:

  • Application fee – which for this category is $190 and is non-refundable
  • Visa issuance fee – or reciprocity fee is applicable in some countries, and its amount is determined by your location.
  • Additional fees – for H-1B applicants, if the company you will be working in has more than 50 employees and more than 50% of them are on H-1B or L-1 visas, there is an additional fee of $4,500.

H-1 Visa Processing Time

The processing time of your H-1 visa application may vary from country to country as well as the number of applications that the U.S Embassy received in that period. In order to have a rough estimate on the visa application processing time, visit this article.

H-1 Extension

Most of the H-1 visas are usually with a maximum of 3 years length. As the expiry date is getting closer you can always apply for an extension. You may be granted with usually one year or 3-year extension. However, it is important to know that the maximum time you are allowed to stay in the U.S is 6 years. As for people working on projects for the U.S Department of Defense, extensions can go up to 10 years.

Your employer must apply for your extension by filing the I-129 form for USCIS, but when it comes to your dependents (spouse and children), they should apply for an extension by filing the Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539). Keep in mind that extensions must be done while your H-1 visa is still valid. If your H-1 visa expires you will be forced to go back to your home country and apply for the process again. You should apply for extensions at least 45 days before your visa expires, which is recommended by the U.S Department of State.

You must fulfill some necessary conditions if you want to extend your H-1 visa:

  • Your visa has to be valid at the time of application to extend
  • You have not committed any crimes while in the U.S
  • You are a legal immigrant in the U.S
  • You did not violate the terms of your admission into the country
  • Your passport is valid and will remain so for the entire duration of your stay

H-1 Transfer

When you are a temporary worker in the U.S and you want to switch employers you will use the H-1 transfer. In this process, there are no restrictions applied and the procedures are more or less similar to how you obtained your H-1 visa.

  • Your new employer needs to file a new Form I-129 to USCIS (you will not need to have a new visa application since you already have a valid H-1 visa from your previous employer)
  • Submit these documents:
    • Copy of your I-94 Form (arrival form)
    • Copy of your most recent I-797 form
    • Copy of current visa stamp
    • Copy of your social security card
    • Copy of tax returns (if applicable)
    • Copies of all pages of your passport
    • Copy of your work experience and offer letters
    • Copy of all your degrees and certificates
    • Updated resume
    • Recent paystubs
    • If you have medical professions, you will need to submit a copy of your state license

Work Visa USA Qualifications

There are three preconditions that someone interested in obtaining a U.S work visa needs to fulfill before applying for it. If you do not meet even one of these conditions, the Embassy might deny your visa application. This will make you unable to travel to the U.S and work there. These preconditions are as follows:

Have a Job Offer in the U.S

You need to have applied for, and been accepted in a job position within the U.S in order to qualify for a work visa. That is because the U.S requires several documents from your employer before you start your visa application.

Approved Petition by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

This requirement means that before you apply for a US work visa, your employer must file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS. This petition, otherwise known as an I-129 form is the most important document for you to get your work visa. When USCIS approves your employer’s petition, you can start applying for the visa. However, if your petition is approved, that does not necessarily mean that the U.S Embassy will automatically give you a work visa. Due to reasons that might remain at the discretion of the Embassy, you could be denied the work visa even if your USCIS petition is approved.

Labor Certification Approval by the Department of Labor (DOL)

Some of the work visas, more specifically the H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, and H-2B also require your employer to have a certification from DOL. Your employer should apply for the DOL on your behalf before even filing the petition with USCIS. The U.S government requires this certification as proof that U.S employers need foreign workers. They have to prove that they cannot fill those work positions with U.S employees. In addition, the certification is needed in order to ensure that temporary foreign workers are not having an impact on job opportunities for U.S citizens in a negative way.

US Work Visa Requirements

In addition to fulfilling the three qualifying preconditions, you will also need to have these documents:

  • Valid passport – which needs to be valid for the entire duration of your stay in the U.S and an additional six months after you return
  • US visa photo – which you need to upload when you fill out the online application form.
  • The Receipt Number, which you can find on your approved Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (I-129 Form) which your employer filed.
  • A confirmation page that you have completed your Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160 Form).
  • Receipt that proves that you have paid the application fee. For US work visas, the application fee is $190. There might also be additional fees that apply to your location, so you should check with your local U.S Embassy about more details.
  • Proof that you will return to your home country after your work in the U.S ends. This applies to all types of work visas with the exception of the H-1B and the L visa. Examples of how you can prove you will return from the U.S include the following:
    • Submitting your economic situation
    • Your family relationships
    • Any long term plans you might have
    • Residence that you plan on returning to
  • For those applying for an L Visa, you will also need to have a filled I-129S form (Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition). You should bring this form with you when you have your visa interview.

Besides these general requirements, which apply to all those who want to get a U.S work visa, there might also be other documents which you need to submit. You should contact your local U.S Embassy for more detailed information.

Work Visa USA Application Procedures

If you have fulfilled the three prequalifying conditions and gathered the necessary documents, then you qualify to start your application for the U.S work visa. The way you can apply is by completing the following steps:

Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) and print the confirmation page

The information you enter into the DS-160 form must all be correct. If you submit any incorrect information, the Embassy will have reason enough to deny you the visa. In addition, the DS-160 form is available in many languages, but your answers must be in English.

Schedule your Interview

Due to the high number of applications that U.S Embassies receive, you should make sure that you schedule your interview as soon as you meet all the requirements. If you are younger than 13 years old or older than 80 years old, a visa interview is generally not required. As for people between the ages of 14 and 79, interviews are required, but there can be exceptions if you are just renewing your visa.

Attend the Interview

Your interview and the information on the DS-160 form will serve for the U.S Embassy to make their decision on whether you should be given a visa or not. That is why, it is highly important that you show up to the interview on time, dressed appropriately, and with all the necessary documents. In addition, you should answer all questions as fully as possible, always giving true information. Visa interviewers are trained to detect when someone is providing false information, so if you do that, they will deny your visa.

Complete Additional Procedures

You will be required to give digital fingerprints before, during, or after your interview depending on your location, as well as pay any additional fees. After the visa processing, if the U.S Embassy gives you the work visa, you might also be required to pay a visa issuance fee. The amount of the visa issuance fee is determined based on your country of origin.

Your Rights and Responsibilities

Temporary Workers in the U.S have a set of rights, which the government grants them. They are protected from violations and exploitation, and can exercise these rights without being penalized. If someone in the U.S violates your rights and you report it, your visa will not be terminated and the government cannot force you to return to your country if your visa is still valid, only because you reported those violations.

If the inspectors of Homeland Security and other departments allow you entry into the U.S, you also have the right to apply to extend your stay. However, once your visa expires, you cannot stay in the country unless the Embassy extends your visa. If you stay after your work visa is invalid, you might not be eligible to apply for one in the future.

You also have the right to apply for a visa for your spouse or children in the same visa category that you have.

H-1B Visa

Visa category:H-1B: Person in Specialty Occupation

General description – About an individual in this category:

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.

H-1B1 Visa

Visa category

H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional – Chile, Singapore

General description – About an individual in this category:

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization. (Note: This is not a petition-based visa.)

H-2A Visa

Visa category

H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Worker

General description – About an individual in this category:

For temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.

H-2B Visa

Visa category

H-2B: Temporary Non-agricultural Worker

General description – About an individual in this category:

For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.

H-3 Visa

Visa category

H-3: Trainee or Special Education visitor

General description – About an individual in this category:

To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee’s home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.

I Visa

Visa category:

I: Representatives of Foreign Media

General description – About an individual in this category:

The visa allows journalists and those who work in the information or media sector to complete their work while in the U.S.

L Visas

Visa category

L: Intracompany Transferee

General description – About an individual in this category:

To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.  Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years

O Visas

Visa category

O: Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

General description – About an individual in this category:

For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

P-1 Visa

Visa category

P-1: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group

General description – About an individual in this category:

To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

P-2 Visa

Visa category

P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)

General description – About an individual in this category:

For performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

P-3 Visa

Visa category

P-3: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)

General description – About an individual in this category:

To perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.

Q-1 Visa

Visa category

Q-1: Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program

General description – About an individual in this category:

For practical training and employment and for sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country through participation in an international cultural exchange program.

R-1 Visa

Visa category:

R-1: Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

General description – About an individual in this category:

To help foreign nationals to come to the U.S and work in a religious organization. Only ministers and those who are directly tied to religious work are qualified.