H-1B (Working Visa)
Real Life Example
Because the laws and procedures in obtaining H-1B status are so complex, I think it may be very helpful to you if I illustrate the process by way of a real-life example.
Disclaimer. The following is intended only to give you a general idea of the topic. It is NOT intended to be legal advice. Everyone’s goals and situations are unique. Please consult an attorney to determine which method is best for your specific goals.
Christine entered the U.S. from the Philippines on a tourist visa with her husband and children. After a few months of touring the U.S. and visiting relatives, her cousin informed Christine that the accounting firm he worked for was in need of another skilled accountant.
Her cousin thought she would be a good fit since Christine had a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and his employer needed someone with her credentials and was unable to fill the position.
Excited about the prospect, Christine was interviewed by the accounting firm. The firm really liked Christine and her qualifications for the accountant position and told her they would would be willing to file an H-1b petition on her behalf.
First, Attorney Avelino informed Christine that it was good that she did not try and find employment until at least 60 days had past from her date of entry as a tourist. Because if she would have tried to find employment earlier, immigration might presume she had a hidden preconceived intent to find work when she was supposed to be entering the U.S. for tourist purposes only. Such actions could be grounds for denial of any change of status and revocation of her tourist visa.
Attorney Avelino then advised that the case would likely be approved since the accounting firm has a bona fide need for a professional accountant and that Christine had the required qualifications for the job. Furthermore, the accounting firm was willing to file the H-1b I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and abide by all the regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor and USCIS. In addition, Christine’s spouse and children could concurrently file I-539, Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status from B-2 to H4.
A couple months later, the petition was approved and Christine’s status changed from B-2 Tourist to H-1b temporary worker. Her family’s status changed to H4 dependent status. Christine can now legally work for the accounting firm.
If Christine and her employer later decide they would like her to permanently work for the accounting firm, they can begin the process of obtaining a green card (permanent residence) for her and her family.
General Qualifications for H-1B Status
To obtain employment authorization by obtaining H-1b status:
- You must have a job offer from a U.S. employer;
- The position offered must reasonably require a bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent in work experience in a specific field;
- You must have the required bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent in work experience in the specific field;
- Your employer must be willing to file an H-1b petition on your behalf with USCIS.
How Long Can I Work Under H-1B Status?
An approved H-1b petition will give the worker a maximum of three years in H-1b status. Your status can then be extended by the filing of a petition for extension of status. The maximum amount of time you can have H-1b status in the U.S. is 6 years. However, there is an exception to this general rule in that your H-1b status can be extended up until the time you obtain an employment based green card if you meet certain requirements.
What About My Spouse and Children?
Your spouse and children under 21 years of age will be able to apply for H4 status. Although H4 status will allow them to live in the U.S., it does not allow them to work.
How long does it take USCIS to make a decision on my case?
It generally only takes USCIS a few months to adjudicate an H-1b petition. However, there is an option to request “Premium Processing” which requires an extra fee but USCIS will begin adjudicating the case within 15 days.
Consult an Experienced Immigration Attorney
The Law Office of Irwin M. Avelino has successfully helped hundreds of Filipinos obtain temporary working visas and permanent residence (green card) based on employment in the United States with over a 98% approval rating. These include accountants, engineers, IT professionals, graphic designers/artists, investors, teachers, nurses, researchers, land surveyors, market research analysts, scientists, architects, human resource specialists, executives, unskilled workers, and many others.
- Each employment category has complex requirements and conditions;
- Each employer has varying needs; and
- Each applicant for employment has unique credentials,
It is best you discuss your options with an immigration attorney experienced in H-1b petitions and visas.