June 22, 2020 update: President Trump temporarily suspended several new work visas, including H-1B visas. Read the New York Times article.
H-1B visas permit California companies to sponsor foreigners to work for them in the United States. In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, the foreigner has to have a specialized occupation requiring an undergraduate degree.
In this article our Los Angeles “H-1B Visa” lawyers discuss specialized occupation visas in California. Click on a question to jump to the answer.
- 1. Am I eligible for an H-1B visa in Los Angeles, CA?
- 2. What is the application process for an H-1B visa?
- 3. How long does an H-1B visa last?
- 4. What is the time frame for getting an H-1B visa?
- 5. What is the cost for an H-1B visa?
- 6. Can families accompany H-1B visa-holders to Los Angeles, CA?
- 7. Can I become a legal permanent resident while on an H-1B visa?
- 8. What happens if I leave or lose my job while on an H-1B visa?
- 9. Can I go to school while on an H-1B visa in Los Angeles, CA?
- 10. Do I have to stay in the U.S. while on an H-1B visa?
There are five prerequisites for H-1B visa eligibility:
- There must be an H-1B visa number available (the limit is 65,000 H-1B visas a year);
- The compensation for the U.S. job must be the actual or prevailing wage for the occupation (whichever is higher);
- The foreigner and U.S. employer have an employee-employer relationship;
- The U.S. job has a direct relation to the foreigner’s college degrees; and
- The U.S job must be considered a “specialty occupation” (which means that the foreigner has to meet minimum degree requirements).
H-1B visa recipients frequently work in the areas of:
- information technology
- scientific research
H-1B visas versus EB visas
Unlike EB visas, H-1B visas are not an automatic gateway to getting legal permanent residence.
The first step is for the U.S. employer to file a Labor Condition Application to the Department of Labor. Afterwards, the employer submits an I-129 Form with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Assuming the I-129 petition gets approved, the foreigner receives instructions for finishing the H-1B visa application process. In many cases, the foreigner will need to go to the local U.S. consulate for a visa interview and to give biometrics (fingerprints).
H-1B visas last three (3) years with a possible extension of another three (3) years.
It typically takes between three (3) and six (6) months to get an H-1B visa.
$190 is the H-1B visa fee.
The following family members of an H-1B visa-holder may come with him/her to the U.S.:
- spouse, and/or
- unmarried children under 21
Note that family may not work in the U.S. unless they get employment visas.
Perhaps, if the U.S. employer agrees to sponsor the H-1B visa-holder to become a legal permanent resident.
If an H-1B visa-holder quits and loses his/her job, he/she has three options:
- get another U.S. employer to sponsor him/her,
- change to another type of non-immigrant status, or
- leave the United States
Yes, most H-1B visa holders may go to school. However, the H-1B visa-holder must maintain the terms of his/her employment.
Typically no. Most H-1B visa-holders may leave and return to the U.S. anytime prior to the visa expiring.
Under the current administration, however, foreign nationals can never be totally certain that the U.S. will allow them back in after they leave. H-1B visa-holders are advised travel with all the documents they showed Customs and Borders Protection when they initially came into the U.S.
Call a California immigration attorney…
Do you need a work visa in California? Phone our California immigration attorneys for a FREE phone meeting. We will investigate the matter to see if you qualify for a visa, and then we will help you through the visa application process so the process is as rapid and painless as possible.
Go to our California visa main page.
For foreigners seeking work in Nevada, see our article on H-1B visa lawyers in Nevada.