What Are The H-1B Visa Requirements

Embarking on a journey with the H-1B visa program is akin to stepping onto a path filled with opportunities for those outside the U.S. hoping to dive into specialized careers. While the program opens doors to exciting professional possibilities, it’s enshrouded in a tapestry of intricate rules and steps. A comprehensive understanding of these details is essential for a smooth sail through the application process. The complexities of the H-1B visa will be unraveled here, offering a crystal-clear picture of its intricacies, eligibility criteria, and the initial steps. It’s a gateway to more than just a work permit; it represents a bridge to global talent and innovation. This visa mirrors the dynamic and diverse nature of the modern workplace.

H-1B Visa: What is it?

The H-1B visa serves as a pivotal opportunity for skilled professionals from abroad, enabling them to embark on a temporary career journey in the United States. Ideal for individuals excelling in specialized areas requiring extensive knowledge and advanced educational qualifications, such as technology specialists, engineers, scientists, or medical professionals, it’s not confined to the tech sector but spans a variety of professional realms. Additionally, the H-1B visa stands as a testament to the global demand for specialized skills and the U.S.’s pivotal role in meeting this demand, connecting global expertise to the diverse U.S. industries.

What are the H-1B Visa eligibility requirements? 

The H-1B visa is a United States visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The eligibility requirements for an H-1B visa generally include:

  • Specialty Occupation: The job must qualify as a specialty occupation by meeting one of the following criteria:
    • A bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position.
    • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree.
    • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position.
    • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.
  • Degree Requirement: The prospective H-1B employee must hold a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university. If the foreign degree is from a non-U.S. institution, it must be equivalent to a U.S. degree.
  • Employer-Employee Relationship: There must be a valid employer-employee relationship with the petitioner. The employer must be able to hire, pay, fire, supervise, and otherwise control the work of the employee.
  • H-1B Visa Number Availability: The H-1B visa has a cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. An additional 20,000 petitions are exempt from the cap for beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.
  • Labor Condition Application (LCA): The employer must file an LCA with the Department of Labor attesting to several items, including payment of prevailing wages for the position, and the working conditions offered.
  • No Adverse Effect on U.S. Workers: The employer must ensure that employing H-1B workers does not adversely affect the working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed.
  • Duration: The duration of an H-1B is usually three years, extendable to six years.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines and the specific circumstances of the employer and the employee might lead to additional requirements or considerations. For the most accurate and current information, it’s advisable to consult an immigration attorney or the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.


What is the H-1B process like?

an ethnic woman holding books

The H-1B process commences with the future U.S. employer filing a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor, a commitment to fair pay and maintaining local workforce standards. The employer also begins maintaining a public access file with various documents regarding the sponsored position.  Upon approval of the LCA, the employer proceeds to file Form I-129 with USCIS. Precision and proactive management in documentation and deadlines are key in this process, highlighting the dedication to transparency and fairness in the American labor market, ensuring mutual benefits for both employer and employee. The H-1B process is carefully designed to safeguard the interests of both the U.S. workforce and international professionals. This ensures that the incorporation of global talent into the U.S. job market enriches rather than disrupts the existing employment landscape. It represents a balanced approach, harmonizing the requirements of the U.S. labor market with the aspirations of skilled professionals globally, facilitating a mutually beneficial exchange of talent and expertise.


Navigating the H-1B visa requirements? Agarwal Law Group can provide the clarity and assistance you need. Contact us for a consultation and expert guidance on your H-1B visa application. 

What Does H-1B Visa Cap Mean?

The annual H-1B visa cap, which stands at 65,000 visas, plus an additional 20,000 for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher, establishes a competitive scenario that often leads to a lottery system for visa distribution. This cap serves as a strategic measure to balance the introduction of international expertise with the safeguarding of local job opportunities. It regulates the number of skilled professionals entering the U.S. workforce, underscoring the importance and demand for specialized skills within the American economy. This system aims to maintain a stable equilibrium in the labor market, aligning the admission of foreign professionals with the economic requirements and capabilities of the nation. For cap-subject petitions, the lottery is run at the end of March each year.  Selected petitioners are invited to submit their completed H-1B petitions between April 1 and June 30 of each year.  Upon approval, the beneficiary can work in H-1B status beginning October 1.  

Common H-1B questions

This section addresses the frequently asked questions regarding the H-1B visa, providing clear and concise answers to common queries. It aims to clarify doubts ranging from sponsorship and employment changes to visa duration and implications of job loss, offering valuable insights for current and prospective H-1B visa holders.

Who can sponsor my H-1B visa?

U.S. companies meeting the H-1B requirements can sponsor an individual. This includes ensuring appropriate wages for the role and proving the need for specific skills. The potential employer’s readiness and willingness to undertake the sponsorship process are vital. This relationship is more than just securing a visa; it’s about establishing a connection where the employer values and invests in the individual’s potential, demonstrating confidence in their abilities and role within the organization. The sponsorship is a testament to the employer’s recognition of the individual’s unique skills and potential contribution to their business. It’s a partnership that not only facilitates the individual’s career growth but also enriches the employer’s workforce.

Can my spouse work?

Spouses and children under 21 of H-1B visa holders can come to the U.S. on an H-4 visa. The ability of an H-4 visa holder to work depends on whether their spouse is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition.  An H-4 dependent spouse may also obtain work authorization based on extreme cruelty or abuse in the marriage.  This aspect of the H-1B program underscores the importance of supporting family unity during employment abroad. The provisions for spouses and children reflect an understanding of the challenges faced by families during international relocation, aiming to facilitate a smoother transition and integration into the U.S. society.

Can I change jobs if I am on H-1B?

Switching jobs on an H-1B visa requires a new petition from the new employer. Ensuring no employment gap during this transition is critical to maintaining visa status. This flexibility is a significant advantage of the H-1B visa, allowing professionals to evolve in their careers, adapting to new opportunities that align with their professional goals. The ability to change employers underlines the dynamic nature of the H-1B visa, accommodating career progression and changes in professional aspirations. It allows for mobility within the U.S. labor market, enabling professionals to seek roles that best match their skills and career ambitions.

How many years can I be on the H-1B?

The initial term of an H-1B visa, typically up to three years and extendable to six, is thoughtfully set to provide substantial work experience in the U.S. while also facilitating opportunities for others. This duration effectively positions the visa as an initial step towards long-term career progression within the U.S. For those aspiring to shift from temporary work status to permanent residency, the H-1B visa offers a viable route, thus supporting not only short-term employment needs but also long-term career and life goals within the United States.

I lost my job while on the H-1B visa, what happens now?

Job loss for an H-1B visa holder triggers a crucial countdown. In situations of job loss, H-1B visa holders are granted a grace period of 60 days or until the I-94 expiration date, whichever comes first, to secure new employment or alter their visa status. The failure to achieve this within the allotted timeframe might result in the necessity to depart the U.S. This aspect of the visa process highlights the critical need for proactive decision-making and staying informed about changes in U.S. immigration policies, underlining the importance of timely action in response to changing employment circumstances. This grace period provides a critical window to secure alternative employment or make necessary adjustments to one’s immigration status, reflecting the U.S. government’s recognition of the challenges faced by foreign workers in such scenarios. It’s a safeguard that offers some flexibility, allowing time to explore options and make informed decisions about the future.


a man and woman in formal attire

Exploring the H-1B visa world needs preparation, knowledge, and staying updated on regulations. Possessing the requisite skills and securing a U.S. employer willing to sponsor your visa can open doors to significant professional development in America. Whether you are preparing to apply or simply exploring your options, a deep understanding of the H-1B visa framework is essential for success. This path is not solely about obtaining a visa; it’s about seizing the myriad opportunities and navigating the challenges in a vibrant and varied work setting. It’s a step towards building a global career and experiencing the richness of cross-cultural professional life.


For individuals contemplating the H-1B visa path and seeking clarity on its requirements, the Agarwal Law Group offers expert guidance. Contact us for personalized advice, and confidently move forward with your professional aspirations in the United States.


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