Feb. 27, 2019

What You Need to Know About H-1B Visas Before the April Deadline

H-1B visas are a popular and highly-sought after visa type for foreign workers seeking employment in the United States. Before the April 1st deadline, it’s important for individuals and businesses alike to understand the requirements and benefits of the H-1B visa. 


H-1B visas are designed to bring in non-immigrant foreign nationals who work in specialty occupations that are lacking among domestic U.S. workers. To be eligible for the visa, an individual must meet one or more criteria:

  • Has obtained a U.S. bachelor’s degree (often done previously via a student visa), as required by the specialty occupation 

  • Has obtained a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree, as required by the specialty occupation

  • Is currently engaged in their specialty occupation, and holds a registration, certification or unrestricted state license authorizing the practice of said occupation

  • Possesses expertise in the specialty occupation through current and previous job positions and has the required training or education required for their specialty occupation

What Are Specialty Occupations?

For a job position to qualify as a specialty occupation, it must also meet certain criterias. For instance:

  • A specialty occupation job position must list a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as the minimum application requirement

  • The employer must typically require a degree for similar positions

  • The duties of the job are complex and specialized enough that a bachelor’s degree or higher is a typical requirement of related job positions

Specialty occupations are often found in the industries of architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical and social sciences and medicine and health.

What is the Application Process for an H-1B Visa?

The application process for an H-1B visa starts with the employer. The employer must first attest that it will comply with labor requirements. If an employer violates these requirements, they may face a fine or other sanctions. To comply with the labor condition requirements, an employer must:

  • Pay the H-1B holder a wage that is equal to both the wage for similarly qualified workers and the standard wage for their geographical location

  • Ensure that the working conditions will not negatively impact existing workers

  • Provide notice of the application to the union representative and/or post it at the business location

Next, the employer will file a petition for nonimmigrant worker with the U.S. Customer and Immigration Services (USCIS). The aforementioned DOL-certified Labor Condition Application is also submitted at this time. 

When this petition is approved, the prospective foreign worker will apply for the H-1B visa. This petition must be filed and approved before the prospective worker can enter the United States.

For assistance filing your H-1B petition, contact an experienced immigration attorney at Whiteman Osterman & Hanna.