Basic Overview of H1-B Visas

H1-B and Dual Intent

The H1-B visa is probably the most popular visa used by workers seeking employment authorization in the United States. One reason for the popularity of the H1-B visa is that it allows dual intent. Dual intent means that you can hold an H1-B visa and simultaneously apply for legal permanent residency (a "green card").

H1-B is for A Limited List of Specialists and Professionals

The H1-B visa is available to a limited list of professionals and specialists. USCIS guidance on approved professions and specialities is available by clicking here. A professional typically will seek an H-1B to begin work in the United States, and often, but not always, later file an application to obtain permanent resident status.

How Long is an H1-B Visa Valid for?

An H-1B petition may be valid initially for up to three years. USCIS commonly grant an extension of the initial H1-B visa for a second period of three years. Limited additional H1-B visa extensions are available beyond the second year period in special circumstances.

Do You Qualify for an H1-B Visa?

Immigration lawyers and USCIS generally apply a three step analysis to see if a client might qualify for an H1-B visa:.

  1. The attorney will determine if the position the foreign national will fill is a professional or specialist job;

  2. The attorney will review the applicants education and background to ensure that they qualify for the position;

  3. The wages offered by the potential employer must satisfy the Department of Labor (DOL) labor condition application (LCA) criteria; and

  4. It must be determined whether the H1-B applicant is inadmissable to the United States.


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