The US H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc.
Any professional level job that usually requires you to have a bachelors degree or higher can come under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. If you do not have a bachelors degree or higher you may be able to show degree equivalence through work experience and/or other qualifications.
The US employer petitions for the H-1B Visa in the US which has a duration of up to 6 years.
Please note that individuals cannot apply directly for an H-1B visa. Instead the employer must petition for entry of the employee.
Applying for a non-immigrant visa is generally quicker than applying for a US Green Card, therefore the H-1B visa is popular for companies wishing to bring in staff for long-term assignment in the US
Current immigration law allows for a total of 85,000 new H-1B visas to be made available each government fiscal year.
This number includes 65,000 new H-1B visas available for overseas workers in specialty (professional) level occupations with at least a bachelors degree, with an additional 20,000 visas available for those specialty workers with an advanced degree from a US academic institution.
The H-1B visa is initially granted for up to three years, but may then be extended to a maximum of six years.
H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children under 21 years of age to the US under the H-4 Visa category as dependents.
An H4 Visa holder is allowed to remain in the US as long as the H-1B visa holder remains in legal status.
While, an H-4 visa holder is not eligible to work in the US unless able to come under a non, they may attend school, obtain a driver's license and open a bank account while in the US.
New data reveals that 86% of the total H1B visas issued in 2014 for technology firms was used to hire IT professionals from India.
On December 18, 2015, the US President signed into law the 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill (Public Law 114-113) which doubled the supplemental visa fees for L-1 and H-1B visas for a period of 10 years for companies employing 50 or more employees in the United States, 50% or more of which were on L-1 and H-1B visas (50:50 rule).
With this legislation in place, 50:50 companies would now need to pay an enhanced fee of $4,500 for each L-1 visa and $4000 for each H-1B visa, as compared to $2,250 and $2000 previously.
According to data available from the US State Department, Indian nationals accounts for 69.43 percent of total H1B visas issued during Fiscal Year 2015.