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H-1B Working Visas for Professionals

Los Angeles Immigration Attorney David M. Sturman

Employers in the United States that wish to employ foreign workers in professional positions called “specialty occupations” may file petitions with the USCIS requesting H1B visa status.

The temporary working visa (H-1B) allows professionals to enter the United States and accept temporary employment within their profession. This visa is often utilized by persons holding a four year degree or its equivalent such as engineers, teachers, accountants, computer professionals, researchers, architects, business managers, computer scientists and other professionals.

To qualify the alien must hold at a minimum a four year degree or its equivalent and have a job offer from an employer in the U.S. who offers to pay the alien the prevailing wages for the particular position.  The H-1B visa is issued initially for a maximum period of three years with extensions available for up to six years.

The visa is subject to annual quota restrictions and is often sought by foreign nationals who have completed their professional training either in the United States or abroad.

Due to the quota or limit on the number of visas available, there is often an unmet demand for the visa which caused the USCIS to hold an annual lottery awarding visas to only those selected.


  • Permission to Work only for the petitioning employer
  • The professional is allowed to receive a salaried income from the employer.
  • The visa is long lasting for up to six years.
  • The visa can be converted to lawful permanent residence through the petition of the sponsoring employer.
  • Spouse and children can accompany the H-1B visa holder
  • Every country can qualify
  • Social security card and state i.d. can be issued
  • Dependents Permitted To Attend School or College.
  • It is possible to have multiple H-1B employers than one H1B visa petition may be in effect simultaneously, allowing the H1B temporary professional to work for two employers during the same time period.

H1B Visa Requirements


  • The applicant must possess the appropriate academic degree or equivalent by experience through progressively responsible positions.
  • If the applicant possesses a foreign degree, the Immigration Service may require a credential evaluation.


  • There must be an employer in the United States offering the professional employment.
  • The offer of employment must be to perform services within a “specialty occupation” which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation.
  • The offer of employment may be for full or part time employment.


  • Where licensure is required to practice a profession, the applicant must hold appropriate licensure under state law.


  • The employer must complete the Labor Condition Application procedure with the United States Department of Labor.
  • The Department of Labor must approve the employers Labor Condition Application.
  • The employer must agree to pay transportation cost if the employer terminates employment prior to the end of the authorized employment.


No Work Prior to Approval

  • Employment may not begin until the Immigration & Naturalization Service has issued its approval and the appropriate visa issued.

Changing Employers

  • Employers may be changed during the six year H-1B visa duration, but only after approval of the new employer and by the Immigration & Naturalization Service.

H1B Visa Quota

  • The H1B visa (specialty occupation) is subject to an annual numerical quota.

Spouse & Children Not Allowed to Work

  • The spouse and children of the H1B visa holder are not permitted to work.

H1B Visa Procedure

Step 1: Prevailing Wage

Step 2: LCA . Form ETA 9035

  • The employer petitioning for H-1B status must file a labor condition application ‘LCA’ with the U.S. Dept of Labor.
  • The LCA (form ETA 9035) must be certified by the DOL before the H-1B petition is filed with the Dept. of Labor.

Step 3: Form I-129

  • The employer files with form I-129 with the USCIS. A decision is usually issued in 2 to 5 months. (15 Days is premium processing is used).

Required Documents

Specialty Occupation

  • An H-1B is an alien coming temporarily to perform services in a specialty occupation.
  • A specialty occupation is one which requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform the occupation and requires completion of a specific course of education culminating in a baccalaureate degree in a specific occupational specialty.
  • The petition must be filed by the U.S. employer, and must be filed with:
    • An approved labor condition application from the Department of Labor;
  • Evidence the proposed employment qualifies as within a specialty occupation;
  • Evidence the alien has the required degree by submitting either:
    • A copy of the person’s U.S. baccalaureate or higher degree which is required by the specialty occupation.
    • A copy of a foreign degree and evidence it is equivalent to the U.S. degree, or
    • Evidence of education and experience which is equivalent to the required U.S. degree;
    • A copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment; and
    • A copy of any written contract between you and the alien or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed.

Processing Times:

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