F-1 to H-1B FAQ

F-1 to H-1B FAQ

F-1 to H-1B FAQ

What is the H-1B?
H-1B is a nonimmigrant classification for temporary employment in a specialty occupation. It is commonly called the “working visa”. 

Is there a minimum salary for a job in H-1B status?
The employer hiring an H-1B worker must have documentation to prove, and then must certify to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), that it will pay the H-1B employee the prevailing wage or the actual wage, whichever is higher. The H 1B requires that the H-1B employer pay the H-1B employee the same or higher wage than is paid to workers in similar occupations, in the geographical area of the proposed employment. The employer must also certify that it is not displacing any U.S. worker to hire the H-1B applicant. 

What is the validity of the H-1B?
The H-1B status permits temporary employment for up to 3 years at a time, and 6 years total in the U.S. Any time spent abroad during these 6 years can be reclaimed and added to the total, as long as the absences from the U.S. can be documented. Extensions past the 6th year are possible under limited circumstances.

What are the general requirements that the job must meet to qualify as a Specialty Occupation?

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent
  • 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 an individual with a 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.

What are the criteria that you must meet to qualify to accept a job offer in a Specialty Occupation?

  • Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
  • Hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
  • Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.

What kinds of occupations qualify for H-1B status?
A broad range of professional occupations qualify for H-1B status. Generally, professional-level occupations in engineering, biological, physical, social sciences, mathematics, and business administration will qualify for H-1B. A bachelor's degree is always the minimum requirement for an occupation to qualify for H-1B status, but depending on the position, an advanced degree (Master's or Ph.D.) may be necessary.

Can students apply for H-1B status themselves?
No. An employer must initiate the application process on behalf of the employee through USCIS. A student must find a job with an employer who will petition for the H-1B.

Is it important to have an attorney?
Since the procedures and record keeping required for the H-1B are complex, an attorney will be necessary to complete the paperwork. It is important for an employer to understand that the H 1B is employer-sponsored, which means that they are responsible for submitting the petition to the USCIS. If an employer is unfamiliar with the H-1B status and/or application procedures, an immigration attorney should be consulted to oversee the process.

Recent News:


Detailed Resources:

H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Cap Season

H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models

Extension of Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 Status for Eligible Students under the H-1B Cap-Gap Regulations

I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers