H-1B Visa

How Our Immigration Lawyers in Boston Can Help Your H-1B Visa Case

H-1B visas are critical to Boston’s high tech economy. Hiring the best immigration lawyer for your H-1B petition can make all the difference. If you are filing an H-1B visa petition, we can help. At the Law Offices of Joshua Goldstein, our immigration lawyers are highly experienced and have successfully prepared and obtained approval for numerous H-1B visa petitions. We’re experts when it comes to Boston employment and are prepared to fight for your case no matter where you live in Massachusetts. We will guide you through this complex immigration process and help find and resolve any issues that may only be apparent to an experienced immigration lawyer.

H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows qualified foreign workers in specialty occupations to temporarily work in the United States for a U.S. employer.

H-1B news for 2015
USCIS has announced that it will begin adjudicating cap-subject H-1B cases for skilled foreign workers starting April 27, 2015. More updates on the H-1B program are coming as soon as they are available.

What are the Qualifications for an H-1B Visa?

You must meet certain educational and work-related requirements in order to qualify for an H-1B visa in Boston. These include the following:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher, or the equivalent in education and experience
  • The job must require an advanced degree and/or experience for the position
  • You must work in a specialty occupation
  • You must be sponsored by an employer
  • Your job must meet specific wage requirements
  • There must be an available H-1B visa number

What are the Specialty Occupations Needed for an H-1B?

A specialty occupation is one that requires application of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor. In Boston, you see many examples of specialty occupations including:

  • Computer scientists, programmers, data management workers, and system administrators
  • Mechanical, electrical, electronics, industrial, civil, and computer engineers
  • Doctors, surgeons, and other health or medical field workers
  • Architects and surveyors
  • Social scientists and biologists
  • Artists and writers
  • Economists, accountants, and auditors
  • Therapists
  • Professors and teachers
  • Lawyers and other workers in the legal field
  • Administrators and managers of various types

What are the Wage Requirements for an H-1B Visa?
Your job must fit into specific wage requirements. This means that the wage offered by your proposed employer must be either similar to other workers with the same qualifications in the same position or the typical wage for that position in a certain geographical area such as Boston.

What are the Requirements for Someone Without a Bachelor’s Degree?
If you do not hold a Bachelor’s degree, you could still apply for an H-1B visa if you have either of the following:

  • A professional unrestricted license or certification in your field that allows you to work in your position. You must also be currently working in your field in order to qualify for an H-1B visa. If your employment ends, your H-1B status is also terminated and, consequently, you are no longer in status. The H-1B regulations don’t provide a grace period, but USCIS sometimes approves a change of status if filed within 30 days of termination.
  • An equivalent amount of training, work experience, or education equal to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a higher degree. You must also have expertise in your field. Usually, three years of specialized training or employment will be considered equivalent to one year of college.

Proving an Employer-Employee Relationship
To qualify for an H-1B visa, the employer must prove that there is a proper relationship between it and you. Evidence will be required to prove the following:

  • The company has the power to hire, direct, and fire employees
  • You are being temporarily hired as a specialized worker
  • You are qualified for the required duties of the position
  • An LCA was properly filed

H-1B Visas for Those Who are Self-Employed
In general, you are not allowed to be self-employed and obtain an H-1B visa for that same company.  The H-1B visa requires that there is an independent company that has sole control to hire, pay, supervise, and terminate employees. However, if you own a company, you can provide evidence that others solely exercise control over your work, such as investors or a board of directors. Evidence of such could include a voting agreement, organizational documents, operating agreement, and offer letter. Factors that will be taken into account include duration of the relationship and whether the employer can assign you additional projects.

What is the Length of Stay Allowed on an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa is initially granted for three years.  Under certain circumstances, you can request for this period to be extended to six years. The H-1B visa is a dual intent visa, which means that you may also later apply for a Green Card, making you a permanent U.S. resident.

Can Your Spouse and Children Accompany You to the U.S.?
It is possible for your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to come with you to the U.S. while you are on your H-1B visa status. They will need to apply for an H-4 visa. While on an H-4 visa, your dependents are not eligible to work in the U.S., but they may attend school.

Common Problems with an H-1B Visa Petition
You have the burden of proof to show that you have the required specialized knowledge or qualifications and appropriate job to qualify for an H-1B visa. Many times, USCIS will respond to your petition with a Request for Evidence, requiring you to explain parts of your petition in more detail or provide additional documentation. These requests must be adequately responded to in a timely manner or your petition will be denied.

In addition, there is an annual quota on the number of H-1B visas approved. The current quota for the 2015 fiscal year is 65,000 per year, and an additional 20,000 visas are available for advanced degree holders with a master’s degree or higher. Applications for H-1B visas can be submitted up to six months prior to the start of the fiscal year, as early as April 1st.  Therefore, you should submit your H-1B visa application as soon as possible for the best chance at receiving a space.

If, while on an H-1B visa, you quit or are dismissed from your position with the sponsoring employer, you must obtain a change of status to another non-immigrant status, find another qualified employer, or leave the U.S. If you continue to reside in the U.S. without an approved visa status, you are subject to removal and the possibility of not being able to return to the U.S.

Call our Boston immigration law office today at (617) 722-0005. Schedule a consultation to learn more about the H-1B visa and how our Boston immigration lawyers can help you.