Immigration Lawyers

Getting a Visa to Work in the United States


How to Get a Work Visa to the United States: H1-B Visa for Professionals and Specialized Workers

If you have a job offer to work in the United States, you may be eligible for an H-1B work visa. This visa will allow you and your family to live and work in the United States for up to six years. In the case that you would like to remain in the US after your work visa expires, you can apply for permanent residence (a “green card”) in the United States.

Here are the eligibility requirements for an H-1B work visa:

1. Labor Certification by the US Department of Labor: This is the first step in the H-1B visa process. The potential employer must submit a request to the Department of Labor describing the working conditions and the salary of the potential employee, and promising that the hiring of the non-US citizen will not threaten job opportunities for US citizens. Importantly, the employer must also attest that it has taken good faith steps to recruit US citizens for the position and offered the job to any US citizen who is at least as qualified as the non-citizen (although there are some exceptions to this requirement).

Visa to Work in the United States

2. A Job Offer: You must prove that you have a firm job offer from a US-based employer. The offer must be for employment in a professional or specialized field. This is defined as a field that requires specialized knowledge or training, such as engineering, medicine, law, accounting, or science. In the petition you will need to provide details about the job description and what your responsibilities in this position will be.

3. Professional Qualifications: You must prove that you have a high level of training which will enable you to perform the duties of the job. Generally, this requires that you have at least a Bachelor’s Degree in a relevant field or the equivalent (at least five years) of experience or training in the specific field of the job itself. Holding an advanced degree (such as Master’s or PhD) or license (such as a license to practice law) may be expected if similar jobs in the industry would require it.

4. Correct Timing: There is extremely high number of H-1B petitions filed with USCIS every year – so many, in fact, that petitions that are not filed within the first few days of the fiscal year will not be considered. The petition must also be filed no more than 6 months prior to the proposed start date of the job. As such, petitions must be filed no later than April 1st.
(Note: there are some cases where you are not subject to the cap and can apply throughout the year).

How long will I be able to stay in the US?

The initial H1-B work visa is granted for a period of three years, and can be renewed. There is a limit on renewals so at a certain point you will be required to leave the United States, unless in that time you have applied for and received permanent residence (a “green card”). As green card applications often take several years, you can file your request soon after receiving your H-1B visa. The green card will enable you to stay in the United States indefinitely.

Can I bring my family?

Yes. H1-B visa holders may request visas on behalf of their spouse and children. While the type of visa that family members receive – H-4 – does not include work permission.

What if I want to change employers?

Changing jobs is permitted for a worker on an H1-B visa, as long as the worker starts the new job while their original visa is still valid. Your new employer will need to file a Change of Employer petition with USCIS on your behalf, and you will be able to work for this new employer as soon as the petition is filed.

Contact a US immigration expert

Applying for and renewing a visa to work in the United States is a long and challenging process, both for the employer and the proposed employee. Our office is experienced in providing this support to clients, from helping employees with their visa petitions to assisting employers file labor certifications. If you are interested in assistance with this process, please reach out to us for an initial consultation at 03-374-4722.

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