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H-1B1 Visa

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H-1B1 Visa

The H-1B1 program provides for temporary employment of non-citizens in specialty occupations from Chile or Singapore. It was established in 2004 through a Free Trade Agreement with Chile and Singapore. Each year, 1,400 nationals of Chile and 5,400 nationals of Singapore are permitted to enter on the visa. In total, 6,800 visas for H-1B1 will be granted each year. 

Citizens of either country may apply for the visa. Permanent residents of either country are ineligible for the visa. Citizens of all other countries may not apply for the H-1B1 visa.

Citizens of Chile and Singapore are not required to file H-1B1 petitions. Instead, they may opt to file regular H-1B petitions if the requirements are met.

H-1B Visa Versus H-1B1 Visa

There are important differences between the H-1B and H-1B1 visa. First, H-1B1 visas are not typically petition-based, meaning that employers do not need to file the I-129 form with USCIS. Instead, non-citizens may apply for the visa directly at the consulate abroad. Second, H-1B1 visa holders must have non-immigrant intent- or the intent to return to their home countries. H-1B1 holders should not generally apply for a green card in the United States. Third, the portability rules do not apply to H-1B1 visas, making it necessary for any H-1B1 transfer petition to be approved before the non-citizen may commence work.  Further, the H-1B1 visa is not subject to an annual lottery. An H-1B1 applicant should be aware of these differences before applying for the visa. 

H-1B1 Visa Process

In order to obtain the H-1B1 visa at the consulate abroad, a non-citizen will need to complete Form DS-160 online and schedule the visa interview. The non-citizen will also need to pay the visa application fee. At the interview, the officer will review the H-1B1 package and ask questions regarding the position to be filled and the applicant’s qualifications. If the visa is issued, the non-citizen will also need to pay the reciprocity fee to the Department of State.

H-1B1 Visas

H-1B1 visas are generally valid for 18 months. The validity of the visa cannot exceed the validity period of the certified Labor Condition Application. The H-1B1 visa in the passport does not confirm nor provide lawful status in the United States.

H-1B1 Extension Petitions

After entering the United States on H-1B1 status, the individual will be issued an I-94 and admitted in lawful status for one year. If an H-1B1 holder chooses to extend his or her status in the United States through USCIS, the H-1B1 Petitioner must prepare and file the I-129 petition before the I-94 ending validity date. Indefinite extensions can be sought in one-year increments.

H-1B1 Change of Employer

The H-1B1 worker may choose to have the transfer petition filed through USCIS in the United States. If the worker selects this option, the employer must file the I-129 petition along with a certified LCA and all required documentation. If the petition is approved, USCIS will issue an I-797 approval notice with a replacement I-94.

H-1B1 Amendment

The H-1B1 employer must notify USCIS of any material changes to the non-immigrant’s work status. A substantial or material change may include alterations to the job duties, job title, hours, worksite, etc. An amended petition must be filed before material changes are made to the employment.

Grace Period

The immigration regulations allow for a discretionary grace period of up to 60 consecutive days following the end of H-1B1 employment (whether by termination or resignation) or until the end of the authorized validity period as shown in Form I-94, whichever is shorter. By the 60th day, the worker must have a new H-1B1 petition filed on his/her behalf or depart the country. The grace period may only be used one time per authorized stay.  

Dependents of H-1B1 Visa Holders

The legal spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may accompany the primary H-1B1 visa holder to the United States after obtaining the H-4 visa. Through H-4 status, the dependents may enroll in school but cannot engage in employment.

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