How do I get an H-1B work visa?

by Vincent Martin on Oct. 12, 2017

Immigration Visa 

Summary: What is an H-1B work visa?

H-1B Work visa

 Generally, the H-1B visa category requires one to have at least a bachelor’s degree (or higher) or its equivalent and the position must require the degree held by the employee.  That is to say, merely having a bachelor’s degree is not enough; the degree must match up with the occupation.    One may hold H-1B status for up to three years consecutively and may apply for an extension for another three years, for a total of six years.


The H-1B visa is used to either bring a foreign professional into the United States or to change one’s status from within the United States to permit employment.  For example, a foreign student who currently holds F-1 student status but is graduating, may seek H-1B status to remain in the United States based on an offer of employment.  One may only change to H-1B status from within the United States if one is presently in a lawful status.  That is to say, someone in an illegal status is not eligible to change to H-1B.


A common question I receive is whether a person may file for his own H-1B visa for himself.  The short answer is no.  In order to get an H-1B visa, one must be the beneficiary of an employer’s petition.  Before filing a petition with the Immigration Service, formally known as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), an employer must file a labor condition application (“LCA”) with the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”).  An LCA is often confused with a labor “certification” application (“LC”); however, they are very different applications and serve very different purposes.  The LCA is used for H-1B cases while the LC is used for permanent resident (green card) purposes.  Each employer for which the employee will work must file its own petition and LCA.

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