This visa category applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.
|Visa Category||General Requirements||Labor Condition Application Required?|
|H-1B Specialty Occupations|| The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:
For you to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:
| Yes. The prospective employer must file an approved Form ETA-9035, Labor Condition Application (LCA), with the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. See the links to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification and USCIS forms to the right.
For more information see the “Information for Employers & Employees” link to the left.
DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker
|The job must meet both of the following criteria to qualify as a DOD cooperative research and development project:
To be eligible for this visa category you must must meet one of the following criteria:
|The position/services must require a fashion model of prominence.
To be eligible for this visa category you must be a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.
|Yes. The prospective employer must file an approved LCA with the Form I-129. See the links to the Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification and USCIS forms to the right.|
*For more information, see 8 CFR §214.2(h)(4)(iii)(A).
**For more information see 8 CFR §214.2(h)(4)(iii)(C).
Step 1: (only required for specialty occupation and fashion model petitions): Employer Submits LCA to DOL for certification.
The employer must apply for and receive DOL certification of an LCA. For further information regarding LCA requirements and Doll’s inert process, see the “Foreign Labor Certification, Department of Labor” link to the right.
Step 2: Employer Submits Completed Form I-129 to USCIS.
The employer should file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the correct USCIS Service Center. Please see the “I-129 Direct Filing Chart” link on the right side of the page. The DOL-certified LCA must be submitted with the Form I-129 (only for specialty occupation and fashion models). See the instructions to the Form I-129 for additional filing requirements.
Step 3: Prospective Workers Outside the United States Apply for Visa and/or Admission.
Once the Form I-129 petition has been approved, the prospective H-1B worker who is outside the United States may apply with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad for an H-1B visa (if a visa is required). Regardless of whether a visa is required, the prospective H-1B worker must then apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for admission to the United States in H-1B classification.
Labor Condition Application (LCA)
Prospective specialty occupation and distinguished fashion model employers must obtain a certification of an LCA from the DOL. This application includes certain attestations, a violation of which can result in fines, bars on sponsoring nonimmigrant or immigrant petitions, and other sanctions to the employer. The application requires the employer to attest that it will comply with the following labor requirements:
- The employer will pay the beneficiary a wage which is no less than the wage paid to similarly qualified workers or, if greater, the prevailing wage for your position in the geographic area in which you will be working.
- The employer will provide working conditions that will not adversely affect other similarly employed workers. At the time of the labor condition application there is no strike or lockout at the employer place of business. Notice of the filing of the labor condition application with the DOL has been given to the union bargaining representative or has been posted at the place of business.
Period of Stay
As an H-1B nonimmigrant, you may be admitted for a period of up to three years. Your time period may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years, though some exceptions do apply under sections 104(c) and 106(a) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21).
Your employer will be liable for the reasonable costs of your return transportation if your employer terminates you before the end of your period of authorized stay. Your employer is not responsible for the costs of your return transportation if you voluntarily resign your position. You must contact the Service Center that approved your petition in writing if you believe that your employer has not complied with this requirement.
The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit “cap” of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Additionally, H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to this numerical cap.
Family of H-1B Visa Holders
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in the H-4 nonimmigrant classification. Family members in the H-4 nonimmigrant classification may not engage in employment in the United States.
Last updated: 03/24/2011