H-1B Numbers Still Available

Houston-area immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee still urging applications for H-1B visas.

An H-1B is a nonimmigrant classification used by an immigrant who will be employed temporarily in a specialty occupation or as a “fashion model” of distinguished merit and ability. Applicants with skills of a more specialized nature, such as architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts generally qualify for the H-1B visa. The majority of these require a minimum of a four year bachelor’s degree or the equivalent field related experience.

Also the beneficiary of the H-1B visa can have the intent to immigrate permanently to the United States. With this “dual intent” you can apply for adjustment of status or take the steps necessary to the Lawful Permanent Resident Status without nullifying the H-1B status.

As of August 7th, 2009, approximately 44,900 of the 65,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions have been received by the United States Citizen and Immigration Service and count toward the H-1B cap. USCIS continues to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits. “There is still time to apply,” says Houston-area immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee, “the cap has a long way to go.”

Under current law, an alien can be in H-1B status for a maximum of six years at a time. After that period, they must remain outside the nation’s borders for a minimum of one year. “The principal exception relates to certain aliens working on Department of Defense projects,” Ms. Banerjee explains, “they can remain for up to ten years.” Then there’s the extension. “Certain aliens can get an extension of their H-1B status beyond the 6-year maximum period when at least a year has passed since the filing of any application for labor certification Form ETA 750, the one that is required or used by the alien to obtain status as an EB immigrant,” she adds.

But the real caveats occur when an alien’s circumstances change. “As long as they keep their job, providing H-1B services to a U.S. employer, all is well,” says Banerjee. “They have to be truthful. If an alien is working in some other specialty occupation other than the one they petitioned for, that would be a status violation.”

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