H-1B visas are reserved for “specialty occupations,” which are professional positions that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, or equivalent, to perform the job. The foreign national must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in the relevant field, or the equivalent based upon formal education, training and experience.
Specialty occupations generally include positions in accounting, architecture, arts, business specialties, education, engineering, law, mathematics, medicine and health, physical sciences, social sciences, and theology, or any area of study at major universities where a bachelor’s degree program is offered.
Additionally, the employer must pay prevailing wage in the area of employment as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor. The “prevailing wage” is the wage paid to similarly employed U.S. workers.
Currently, 85,000 H-1Bs are issued every year (with 20,000 of those reserved for master’s degree or above holders from U.S. graduate schools), usually in three-year increments, with a maximum duration of six years (which can be extended one year at a time past the six-year limit if one has a labor certification or I-140 petition pending for one year). There are very special provisions for applicants from Chile and Singapore including elimination of the requirement that the employer file a petition.
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