H-1B Specialty Occupations

Basic Summary

The H-1B Visa is the primary employment-based nonimmigrant Visa for professionals. H-1B applicants ordinarily hold Bachelors Degrees and seek to be employed in the United States in occupations that are associated with the attainment of a Bachelors Degree or higher. H-1B employers must pay their workers the greater of Prevailing or Actual Wage, post Notice of the occupation at the work site, and may have to offer H-1B employees return transportation at the end of their H-1B stay, unless the H-1B employee migrates to a new H-1B employer.


Nationals of all countries can be eligible for H-1B status. Chilean and Singaporean nationals are granted a favored H-1B1 Visa, which ordinarily allows these cases to be filed year-round, even if the usual H-1B cap has been reached. Australian nationals qualify for the E-3 Visa. While the E-3 Visa falls generally under a different visa category, it shares many characteristics of the H-1B1 Singaporean and Chilean Visa categories.


New H-1B employees are subject to an annualized over-all cap of 85,000 of which 20,000 are set aside for graduates of US Masters Degree programs. H-1B cap-subject cases typically include:

  • International students working on an EAD card under an OPT or CPT program after having attended a U.S. school;
  • International employees working on a TN and they need an H-1B filed for them in order to pursue Permanent Residency (Green Card);
  • Prospective international employees in another H-1B Visa status, e.g. H-4, L-2, J-1, and F-2;
  • H-1B workers of a cap-exempt organization; and
  • Prospective international employees currently living/working abroad.

Certain organizations can qualify for cap-exempt status. Ordinarily these organizations are universities, non-profits related to universities, non-profit research organizations, and/or non-profit government research organizations.

Spousal and Dependent Work Authorization

Spouses and dependent children are ineligible for employment under the H-1B Visa. Dependents of Australian E3 Visa applicants do qualify for spousal work authorization.


The H-1B Visa is ordinarily granted for three years at a time. H-1B Visas are not to exceed six years, unless a Permanent Residency (Green Card) petition has been filed sometime during the first five years in H-1B status. In the event that a Green Card petition has been filed during the first five years of H-1B status, then the H-1B worker’s H-1B status can be extended indefinitely, until such time of the issuance or denial of the Green Card.