Foreign workers looking to work in the United States have several types of visas to choose from. Among them are the H-1 and H-1B visas, two of the most commonly used visas for foreign workers in the US. Many people looking to work in the US, however, may not understand the differences between these two visas or know the criteria required for obtaining them. In this article, we will explore the key differences between the H-1 and H-1B visas, explain what is meant by each visa, and provide examples of how they are used in different industries.
- H-1 and H-1B visas are popular among foreign workers looking to work in the US
- The H-1B visa has more specific criteria and is capped at a certain number of visas issued each year
- The H-1 visa is generally used for temporary or seasonal positions while the H-1B visa is used for more long-term positions
- The tech industry is the largest industry utilizing the H-1B visa program
What is an H-1 Visa?
An H-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows employers in the United States to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. Specialty occupations are those that require a bachelor’s degree or higher, or equivalent work experience. These occupations include fields such as architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine, and health.
To qualify for an H-1 visa, the foreign worker must have a job offer from a US employer for a specialty occupation, and they must meet certain minimum requirements including a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. The employer must also demonstrate that the foreign national will be paid the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment.
H-1 visas are valid for up to three years but can be extended for an additional three years. Some foreign workers may also apply for a visa extension beyond the six-year maximum. However, this is only possible if they have obtained an approved labor certification from the Department of Labor or an approved employment-based immigrant petition that is pending.
What is an H-1B Visa?
H-1B visas are also nonimmigrant visas like H-1 visas, but they are more specific. This type of visa is for foreign workers in specialty occupations who require theoretical or technical expertise in a specific field such as in IT, engineering, or mathematics.
To qualify for an H-1B visa, the foreign worker must have a job offer from a US employer for a specialty occupation and meet certain minimum requirements including a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the employer must show that the foreign worker has specialized knowledge and that the position requires someone in that role. The H-1B visa program is subject to a cap each year, currently set at 85,000 visas. Of these, 20,000 are reserved for foreign workers with a master’s degree or higher.
H-1B visas are valid for up to three years but can be extended for up to six years. Some foreign workers may also apply for a visa extension beyond the six-year maximum if they have obtained an approved labor certification from the Department of Labor or an approved employment-based immigrant petition that is pending.
Which Industries Rely More Heavily on One Type of Visa Over the Other?
While both H-1 and H-1B visas are used in a variety of industries, the tech industry is the largest user of the H-1B visa program. Many IT companies rely heavily on foreign workers to fill skilled positions, which makes the more specific requirements of the H-1B visa program a better fit for their needs. Meanwhile, the H-1 visa is more commonly used in industries that require temporary or seasonal workers, such as agriculture or hospitality.
In summary, the H-1 and H-1B visas play a critical role in allowing US employers access to a diverse pool of talented foreign workers to fill critical skill gaps. Although both visas have many similarities, the H-1B visa program has more specific and stringent requirements than the H-1 visa program. However, both visas have helped many businesses succeed in the US across a diverse set of industries.
How long does it take to get an H-1B visa?
The processing time for an H-1B visa can vary depending on the time of year and the number of petitions filed. The USCIS begins accepting applications on April 1st of each year, and demand often outstrips supply. Applicants are typically notified of their status in late April or early May.
Can I work while my H-1B visa application is being processed?
No, you cannot work in the US while your H-1B visa application is being processed. You must wait until you receive a decision on your visa application and, if approved, until the start date specified on your visa.
How can I find a job on an H-1B visa?
One way to find a job on an H-1B visa is to search for job postings on job boards, including online job search engines. Another option is to work with recruiters or staffing agencies that specialize in helping foreign workers find employment in the US. Finally, connecting directly with US companies that frequently hire foreign workers can also be an effective strategy.