Overview of H Visas

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Undoubtedly foreign workers play a critical role in the American economy labor market, particularly in the science, tech, and engineering industries. Every year, United States companies seek out the best and brightest talent from around the world. Unfortunately, these individuals must first navigate the lengthy and arduous immigration process before they are able to cross international borders for work. This is why more and more business leaders, skilled workers, and entrepreneurs are turning to immigration and H-1B visa attorneys for assistance.

At Alcorn Immigration Law, we carefully consider employee needs, industry standards, and company goals to craft an immigration strategy that works for our clients. Through our practice, we have successfully achieved a 95% approval rating for our clients. To learn more about how we can help, consider contacting us at 1(855) 546-0015 today.

What Are the Types of H Visas and Who Do They Serve?

Naturally, a person who wishes to enter the United States to work must first obtain legal permission to do so. This permission is represented by the visa, of which there are many different types and categories. The H-category visas are among the most intricate and specific, designed to allow an individual to travel to the United States for a fixed period of time to live and work. It is important to note that H visas do not grant permanent residency. Rather, these nonimmigrant visas are temporary and expire after several years.

There are several types of H visas, all of which serve different types of employees. The Alcorn H-1B visa attorneys have experience navigating all types of H-category visa scenarios, including application, lottery registration, extensions, amendments, portability, and transfers. Let us take a closer look at each type of H visa and who they serve.

H-1B and Equivalents

Employers can petition for an H-1B Visa for Specialty Occupations for foreign nationals to fill jobs requiring specialized skills that are difficult to fill with American workers. An international entrepreneur’s startup can also petition for an H-1B on behalf of its founder. Extensions, amendments, and H-1Bs for employees transferring from another company and employees to consult at client sites are also possible. Country-specific versions include:

• E-3 Visa for Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia

H-1B1 Visa for Chileans and Singaporeans


Employers can hire foreign employees to fill seasonal jobs by petitioning for the following H visas:

H-2A Visa for Agricultural Workers

H-2B Visa for Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers


A company or organization may petition for an H-3 Visa for Nonimmigrant Trainees for a foreign national to receive training or experience unavailable in the foreign national’s home country.


The spouse and dependent children of H-1A, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders are eligible for an H-4 Visa for Skilled Worker Dependents. Some spouses are eligible to work permits with an Employment Authorization Document.

H-1B Specialty Occupation Visas

If you are a U.S. employer and would like to hire foreign talent in the U.S., an H-1B visa may be a perfect option for you! The H-1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for temporary workers. In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, there must be a job offer for a specialty occupation position and the candidate must have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a specific specialty, a related field, or equivalent. The H-1B visa allows for creative solutions to various employment needs, such as (1) an international entrepreneur’s startup petitioning for its founder; (2) transferring an employee from another company to yours; (3) extending the stay of a current H-1B employee at your company; (4) changing the role of a current employee at your company; or, (5) helping a student in the U.S. go from F-1 student status to H-1B so he/she can work at your company.

There are also country-specific versions of the H-1B visa which may help you onboard foreign talent faster! These include:

The Process

You may be wondering, “What does the process look like?” And that’s a great question! The process may vary depending on your company’s employment needs, as well as the foreign national’s current status. However, typically the process involves the following steps:

  • Determining what nonimmigrant status the foreign national currently holds. And don’t worry, we will help you with this!
      • If the foreign national has never held H-1B status before, then they will likely be subject to the H-1B Cap lottery.
    • If the foreign national currently holds H-1B status with another employer, then an H-1B change of employer petition may be filed without going through the H-1B cap. 
    • If the foreign national is currently in a different nonimmigrant status but previously held H-1B status, then an H-1B change of status may be filed.
    • If the foreign national is currently abroad but previously held H-1B status, then an H-1B consular processing petition may be filed on their behalf. 
  • Confirming whether the foreign national is qualified for the position.
    • The foreign national must have, at a minimum, a Bachelor’s degree in a specific specialty, or a related field.
    • If the foreign national has a foreign degree, it must be evaluated by an educational credential evaluator to be equivalent to a U.S. degree.
    • If the foreign national did not complete their academic studies, do not worry! We may be able to use their work experience to obtain the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree. 
  • Submitting a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL) for certification. The main purpose of an LCA is for employers to attest to the employment details of the H-1B beneficiary.
  • Submitting Form I-129, along with the certified LCA and support documents, to USCIS.
    • If the case is filed under regular processing, it may take several months to receive a response from USCIS.
    • If the case is filed under premium processing, we will receive a response within 15 calendar days after the H-1B petition is filed and received by USCIS.
  • Onboarding the happy new hire once the H-1B petition is approved!
    • If the foreign national currently holds H-1B status with another employer, they may be able to join your company as soon as we receive the receipt notice from USCIS. We’ll be sure to explain this option to you during our case kick-off meeting!


H-1B petitions are approved in increments of 3 years, for a total of six years. The good news is that if the foreign national is in the process of obtaining a green card for permanent residence, they will be able to extend beyond the six-year limit in increments of one year or three years! 

Family Members

The H-1B visa is also a great option for foreign nationals that have family members in the U.S.! Dependents of an H-1B beneficiary, including spouse and children, may obtain H-4 status in the U.S. H-4 spouses may also be eligible for work permits if the H-1B spouse has an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (one of the steps in the green card process).

Summarizing the H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is a temporary, nonimmigrant category that empowers employers to sponsor highly educated foreign workers in “specialty occupations” that require a higher educational degree and specific knowledge base. Often, these specialty occupations include jobs in mathematics, engineering, technology, and the medical field, but positions in several other industries may qualify as well. The initial duration of the visa is three years, after which the visa may be extended for a cumulative maximum of 6 years.

This visa category also provides for immediate family members. The dependent spouse and children of the visa holder are able to file for an H-4 visa to live in the United States. While the H-4 visa does not allow for work in the country, there is an option to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to allow for employment in the United States.

What Qualifications Must I Have to Be Eligible for an H-1B Visa?

There is a range of eligibility requirements that a person must meet to qualify for an H-1B visa. Broadly, to be eligible for a visa in this category, the following must be true:

  • The applicant wishes to perform services in a specialty occupation
  • The United States employer is able to demonstrate that there is an exclusive need for this foreign worker and the job cannot be accomplished by a local citizen due to a lack of availability or qualification, either academically or professionally

What Does Specialty Occupation Mean?

The primary requirement for applying for an H-1B visa is that the prospective employee must be performing a job in a specialty occupation. This term is quite nuanced, and understanding the definition of a specialty occupation is central to understanding whether or not you are eligible for this visa. For a position to be considered a specialty occupation, the occupation must require:

  • Theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge.
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in the specialty is a prerequisite for entry into the profession.

In addition, the role must meet at least one of the following criteria to be considered a specialty occupation under United States immigration law:

  • A bachelor’s or higher degree is typically the minimum requirement for entry into a specific position, or
  • The employer normally requires a degree for the position, or
  • The requirement for a degree is common in equivalent positions among similar organizations, or
  • The job is so complex that it cannot be performed by an individual without a degree, or
  • The nature of the duties of the position is so complex that the knowledge needed to perform these duties typically necessitates a degree.

This definition is complex, and many individuals wonder whether their desired position qualifies as a specialty occupation. Fortunately, the knowledgeable H-1B visa attorneys from Alcorn Immigration Law can provide the necessary guidance on this matter.

  • Agriculture
  • Business or finance
  • Communication
  • Governance
  • Transportation
  • Other positions aside from graduate medical training

The H-3 special education exchange visitor visa, on the other hand, is designed for individuals who want to enter the United States to engage in a structured program to learn to provide education to children with disabilities.

Can I Obtain My H Visa Even If I Do Not Live in the US?

Yes, it is possible to obtain your H visa even if you do not currently live in the United States. Your prospective employer may petition on your behalf while you are outside of the United States. Once you have been granted H status and are issued a visa at your United States embassy or consulate, you may proceed with making travel arrangements to the country.

What Is the H-1B Visa Cap?

The H1-B visa category was created in 1990 and since then, Congress has placed a cap on the number of visas that are made available every year. Currently, the annual limit – or cap – is 65,000 visas, with an additional 20,000 for foreign workers who hold a master’s degree or doctorate from an American institution and several thousand saved for Chile and Singapore nationals. As such, the annual limit is often reached very early in the year.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services utilizes a lottery system for H-1B visas. This means that every year, hopeful petitioners register for the visa lottery and individuals are selected at random to submit a full petition. If you are selected, you may proceed with your visa application. If not, you may re-register the following year. H-1B visa attorneys can provide further insight into the H-1B visa cap, eligibility requirements, the lottery system, and the extensive process of applying for H-1B, H-4, and H-4 EAD visas in the United States.

What Is the Role of an H-1B Visa Attorney in the H-1B Petition Process?

Immigration attorneys can play a key role in the success of your H-1B petition and visa application, making their role critically important. The right H-1B visa attorney will be able to skillfully handle every aspect of the petition process, including:

  • Provide guidance on eligibility requirements, lottery selection timeline, and petition process
  • Ensure that your petition is completed thoroughly and according to the rules and regulations set forth by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Assist employers in filing the Labor Condition Application through the Department of Labor’s iCERT online system
  • Respond to requests for additional evidence


Employers can hire foreign employees to fill seasonal jobs by petitioning for the following H visas:


A company or organization may petition for an H-3 Visa for Nonimmigrant Trainees for a foreign national to receive training or experience unavailable in the foreign national’s home country.


The spouse and dependent children of H-1A, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders are eligible for an H-4 Visa for Skilled Worker Dependents. Some spouses are eligible to work permits with an Employment Authorization Document.

How to Choose the Right Immigration Attorney for Your Needs

It is essential to choose the right immigration attorney for your needs. Your legal representation will dictate the efficiency of the application process and your ability to avoid pitfalls and roadblocks along the way. Choosing the right immigration attorney is not always straightforward, however, and with so many firms competing for your business you will want to ensure that your attorney will truly prioritize your needs and goals. When vetting prospective H-1B visa attorneys, it may be helpful to take the following into consideration:

  • What is the attorney’s approval rating?
  • How quickly will your petition and visa application be completed?
  • Will the attorney be able to mitigate risk along the way?
  • Is the attorney kind and communicative? Do you feel comfortable interacting with them?
  • Does their fee structure align with your budget?

How the H-1B Visa Attorneys from Alcorn Immigration Law Can Help You

At Alcorn Immigration Law, we believe that global mobility is a crucial asset to business growth. It is for this reason that we have centered our legal practice around helping our clients acquire top talent worldwide. Through our strategic guidance and innovative approach, we can help you navigate the complex immigration process and accomplish, together. To speak with our experienced H-1B visa attorneys to begin crafting your legal strategy, consider contacting our office at +1(855) 546-0015 today.