The H-1B Program

The H-1B Program


H-1B visas allow employers in the United States to temporarily hire foreign workers for jobs that require theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and that require the visa holder to have at least a Bachelors degree or its equivalent, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Working in fields such as science, engineering and information technology may allow foreigners to obtain the H-1B visa. One of the greatest benefits of having an H-1B visa is the opportunity to study full-time or part-time while working. Thus, it is essential to know how one should obtain an H-1B visa.


Application Process*

Step 1: (Required for only 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 DOL's inert process, see the "Foreign Labor Certification, Department of Labor" page.


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 our I-129 Direct Filing Chart 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 (PDF, 347 KB) 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.


Length of Stay

Once a person is offered the H-1B visa, their visa lasts for up to three years, although it can be extended for up to a maximum of six years. If the H-1B visa holder would like to stay for more than the maximum of six years, they can apply for permanent residency in the US to receive a Green Card. However, if permanent residency is not approved prior to the end of the H-1B visa expiration, then one must live outside the US for at least one year before reapplying for another H-1B visa.

Family & Dependants

Spouses of H-1B visa holders and their children under 21 years of age are allowed to enter the United States as dependents under the H-4 Visa category. The H-4 visa holder is eligible to remain in the United States for the legal duration of the H-1B visa holder’s stay. Though dependents are not eligible for employment, they may go to school, get a driver's license and open a bank account during the time they are in the United States.


H-1B Visa Cap

Though there may be many qualified candidates, the USCIS sets a limit on how many H-1B visas are issued each year. Though the government can change the number of people admitted into the United States, the cap is usually set at 65,000. In addition, about 20,000 more H-1B visas are issued to eligible people who have already completed a Masters degree in the United States.


For more information on the H-1B visa program, please visit the USCIS website or contact an Optimus Language School Representative.


* “H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models.” USCIS,


Published on November 8, 2017

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