The Specialty Occupation H-1B visa will open for filing on Wednesday April 1, 2015 with the earliest eligible employment date of October 1, 2015. Employers are encouraged to identify current and possible future foreign national employees who will need H-1b visa status to be legally employed in the US. The Specialty Occupation H-1B visa is useful for employers looking for specialized foreign workers particularly those educated in the sciences, such as engineers, scientists, and computer programmers.
There are only a limited number of H-1B visas available each government Fiscal Year (FY) which runs from October 1 to September 30 each year. There are 65,000 regular H-1B cap numbers plus 20,000 advanced degree cap and 6,800 visas for Chile and Singapore available for FY 2016. In most recent years the CAP has been filled within the first 5 days of April and the application process is closed. As in recent years it is anticipated there will be more applications received than visas available. When this happens a ‘lottery’ is conducted by USCIS from the cases filed during the five day open period. The cases not selected are returned with the filing fee and are not processed. There is a special E3 visa available for Australian citizens which are similar to the H-1B that are not subject to the H-1B cap.
The basic requirements for an H-1B filing are:
1. Employer-Employee relationship at time of employment
2. Position must be a Specialty Occupation:
a. Bachelor Degree or higher or equivalent as minimum requirement for the position Degree requirement is common for the position, or job is so complex or unique can only be performed by person with degree or equivalent
b. Employer normally requires degree or equivalent
c. Nature of duties so specialized or complex job is normally associated with attainment of degree
3. Job must be in specialty occupation related to field of study
4. Pay must be at least the actual or prevailing wage
5. A visa number must be available at the time of filing
Beginning May 26, 2015, certain H-4 dependents of H-1B visas holders will now be eligible for Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:
· Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (I-140), or
· Are H-4 spouses of H-1B holders who are seeking lawful permanent resident status and are being permitted to remain in the US beyond the six year limit on their H-1B status.
USCIS estimates are there may be as many as 179,600 eligible H4 applicants in the first year and 55,000 eligible applicants in subsequent years.
Most Registered nurse (RN) positions do not qualify as a temporary worker in a specialty occupation because they do not normally require a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree. There are certain advanced practice RN (APRN) positions that normally require a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree and may qualify for H-1B.