Q&A: What are the nuts and bolts of an H1B visa?

The H1B work visa is one of the most popular employment based temporary visas. This non-immigrant visa allows foreign workers of a “specialty” occupation to work and reside in the United States for up to six years, in addition to their spouse and dependent children. In an H1B petition, the employer is the petitioner, while the employee is the beneficiary. It is the sole responsibility of the employer to file the H1B petition with USCIS, meaning foreign individuals cannot petition themselves for H1B status. Beneficiaries must be able to prove that they have an offer of gainful employment by a U.S. business, and that the job requires specific, sophisticated knowledge. In addition, a U.S. employer must satisfy several requirements such as verification that they will pay the prevailing wage or higher, and that the employment of a foreign worker will not harm conditions for U.S. workers. The cap for H1B visas is set at 65,000 per year, however, there is a special provision that allows an additional 20,000 visas for graduates of U.S. masters programs, or higher. Once an HIB petition is approved, H4 visa status will be granted to the beneficiary’s spouse and dependent children.