Immigration for Workers: The H Visa
The H nonimmigrant visa category enables foreign nationals to come temporarily to the United States to work or receive training that is not generally available in their home country. Below is an overview of the four visas that fall into this category.
The H-1B visa allows a foreign national to work temporarily in the U.S. in a “speciality” occupation, which is defined as a job requiring a certain amount of technical or theoretical expertise. Common examples include:
To qualify for this visa, the applicant must have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent experience in the specialty occupation. Their U.S. employer must also obtain a labor condition application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL) before filing the petition.
H-1B visas are generally valid for a maximum of six years, although employees may extend their status under certain circumstances, such as applying for an employment-based green card. The spouses and minor children of a visa holder may accompany them to the U.S. on H-4 status but are not authorized to work.
These temporary employment visas are capped, meaning that there is a limited number of 65,000 for bachelor-level qualifications and 20,000 for those who have master’s degrees or higher from a U.S. institution. Former H-1B visa holders are generally exempt from these limits.
The H-2B visa is available for both skilled and unskilled workers who want to come to the U.S. to perform a temporary or seasonal non-agricultural job that lacks a sufficient amount of U.S. workers. Common examples include temporary consulting and project management positions.
Like the H-1B, employers must obtain a DOL labor certification confirming that there are no qualified U.S. employees before they file the H-2B petition. Once granted, the visa is good for a maximum of three years. Spouses and minor children may accompany the visa holder with an H-4 status.
The H-2B visa cap is 66,000 per year, with 33,000 for those whose jobs begin in the first half of the fiscal year.
H-3 Visa The H-3 visa is available to two types of applicants:
Workers coming to receive training (other than graduate or medical education) that is not available back home.
Special education exchange visitors coming to participate in a training program for children with disabilities. There is a numerical cap of 50 visas per year on this category.
If the U.S. employer or organization’s petition is granted, trainees may remain in the U.S. for up to two years and special education exchange visitors for up to 18 months. Spouses and minor children may accompany them as H-4 nonimmigrants but cannot work.
Applying for an H visa is a multi-step process that takes time and can be complicated. The employment-based immigration team at Jarbath Pena Law Group will assist you and your U.S. employer with the petition process and use our background and experience to provide counsel and support if problems arise. For more information please contact us.