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H1B1 Visas

If you’re an American employer, you can hire workers from Chile or Singapore. However, you first need to sponsor the prospective foreign national employee for the H1B1 visa. The process is more difficult than you might imagine.

Before making any major decisions, there are a few details you should know. The visa isn’t for everyone. You should speak with an immigration lawyer to learn about the requirements for the visa and for guidance through the process. Here at the Florida Immigration Law Counsel, we can assist you in your quest for a work visa.

What is a US H1B1 visa?

The H1B1 visa is one of the most widely known employment or work-based visa options in the United States and is one of many different options available to employers. The H 1b1 visa grants nationals of Chile and Singapore, as well as their spouses and children, temporary stay in the U.S. 

If you work in a specialty occupation and you are a citizen of an eligible country (Chile or Singapore), and you have been hired at a job in the U.S., then you will need to secure a work visa. Citizens of Chile and Singapore are eligible to apply under the H 1B1 visa. Availability is broken down into the following statistics:

  • 1,400 H1B1 visas are available for Chileans
  • 5,400 visas are available for Singaporeans

These nonimmigrant worker classifications were established in 2004 under the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act.

Who Is Eligible for an H1B1?

As mentioned above, an H1B1 visa is a work visa available to citizens of Singapore or Chile. However, there are many requirements for the visa. They need to be professionals with a four-year degree or the professional equivalent. Additionally, they need to be working in a specialty occupation and must only work for 18 months at a time.

Specialty Occupations

Most specialty occupations require a minimum of a four-year degree. But there are some exceptions. For example, Chileans who are physical therapists and agricultural managers do not need a degree. Chileans and Singaporeans alike do not need degrees if they are disaster relief claims adjusters or management consultants with a degree in a specialty other than their profession.

Education isn’t the only requirement for a specialty occupation. For a job to qualify, it must require specific theoretical and practical knowledge. The workers should require thorough education and on-the-job training.

Family Members

If you come to the U.S. on an H1B1 visa, you don’t need to leave your family members behind. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can accompany you. However, they are only eligible for the dependent H4 visa. This is an option whether or not the family members are citizens of Chile or Singapore.

Although your members can accompany you, they can’t work in the US. The H4 visa does not permit the visa holder to gain employment. It does, however, allow them to study while on U.S. soil.

How can I get an H1B1 visa?

The visa application process starts when your employer submits a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the U.S. Department of Labor which attests to their compliance with the requirements of the H1B1 visa program. It must be submitted within six months before the start of the period of employment, but no earlier. Except when an employer has a disability or lacks Internet access, the LCA must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor electronically. Then your employer can file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or obtaining an H1B1  visa through the Department of State.

Unlike other visas based on treaties, an employer does not have to file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS, nor a Notice of Approval. Instead, the applicant can go directly to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply while still living in their home country. In order to have your petition approved, the applicant must bring the following for processing:

You must bring the following documents to your H1B1 visa interview:

  • Your passport, which must be current, valid, and not set to expire anytime soon
  • Certified Form ETA 9035 or 9035E, Labor Conditions Application (LCA), from the U.S. Department of Labor, which must be signed by your employer
  • Your DS-160 Non-Immigrant Visa Electronic Application and pay the appropriate Visa Fee before the interview, and your payment acknowledgment (Visa Fee Receipt)
  • Your offer letter from your U.S. employer describing the company, position, salary, duration, your qualifications (i.e., a degree, evidence of your specialized knowledge), and the employment benefits you will receive.
  • Because this visa type is available for citizens of Chile and Singapore in specialty occupations that require a theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge, you will need to bring documents that attest to your eligibility, such as a copy of your degree, in order to be approved.
H1B1 Nonimigrant visas issues table 2016-2020

Source: Travel State

Who is eligible for an H1B1 visa?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) set forth the policies and announce when changes are made. One of the key requirements to be eligible for H-1B is that the employer must prove to immigration agencies that the non-immigrant worker was hired over other applicants because there were no other acceptable applications within the pool of US workers who applied. DHS approves H1B1 visas or qualified beneficiaries and petitioners only. These workers must be employed in a specialty occupation, which can be proven with evidence of experience and a degree in the field.

How Can You Get the Visa?

If your worker is in need of this visa, they have two choices. The first option is to make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy anywhere outside of the US. They must show the necessary documents and request the visa. Typically, this takes about two or three weeks.

The second option is for individuals already in the country with legal status. In this scenario, the worker can ask their employer to mail the visa request to the USCIS. However, this method takes longer. It takes approximately four to six months for the USCIS to process the request, and there is no way to speed up the decision. The worker cannot work until the visa is approved. For that reason, most employers don’t use this option.

Labor Condition Application

There’s another step in the visa process, and only the employer can complete this step. The employer needs to get a Labor Condition Application (LCA) certified for the potential employee.

To receive the LCA, the employer needs to go to the Department of Labor. However, few employers are aware of the process. You can turn to an immigration lawyer and receive guidance. They can do the work for you.

Limitations with H1B1 Visas

There are many challenges facing those who have or need H1B1 visas. First, there’s the cap on visas. Every year, there is a limit to how many H1B1 visas are issued. According to the Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the USCIS can only give out 6,800 H1B1 visas each year to Singaporeans and Chileans. This doesn’t include their spouses and children.

Typically, that limit is not reached. But it is a possibility and one of which you should be aware of. Another limit does often affect other visa applicants — a limit on dual intent visas.

Single intent visas only allow the worker to stay in the country on a temporary basis. The H1B1 is a single intent visa. But the H1B  is a dual intent visa. This type of visa allows you to apply for a green card while on the visa. Every year, there is an H1B lottery. Only a few of the applicants receive the visa.

Another limitation is the timeline. At American ports of entry, immigration officers rely on a 600-page rule book. That rule book dictates the rules of admission for all visas, including the H1B1 visa. According to the rules, H1B1 visa holders can only remain in the country for a maximum of one year. That timeline can be less if the LCA is not for the full year.

Renewing the Visa

Unlike certain visas, the H1B1 is renewable under certain conditions. In fact, it is indefinitely renewable as long as you can show that you do not intend to remain in the U.S. permanently. This means you need to have no pending green cards, and you do have ties to your home country. Usually, the government only issues about five or six H1B1s before suspecting an intent of permanency.

To renew the visa, an employer can mail in the renewal. The renewal takes between four and six months, so the employer must do it in advance of the visa’s expiration. The other option is for the applicant to ask for one at a U.S. Embassy in another country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Florida Immigration Law Counsel strives to answer your questions regarding H1B1 visas, but it’s impossible to address every question people may have. That’s why we offer a free consultation to anyone interested in the H1B1 visa. 

How long is an H1B1 visa good for?

An H-1B is initially valid for up to three years. You may also change employers with permission from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Can I extend or renew H1B1? What about my family?

As long as you can prove that you do not intend to become a permanent resident in the U.S., then you and your children or family can continue to stay with your nonimmigrant visa for another three years for a total stay of six years.

Can I be self-employed or work as a freelancer or contractor with an H1B1 visa?

According to U.S. immigration law, you may not be self-employed or an independent contractor while living in the U.S. with an H1B1 work visa. 

What is a dual intent visa? 

Most non-immigrant visas require that visa applicants state their intention to return to their home country and eventually do so rather than establish permanent residency in the U.S. You could jeopardize your status if there is any hint that you don’t intend to make your stay in the U.S. temporary. In fact, it’s even better if applicants have never stated any intent to get a green card prior to filing their petition to receive an h 1b1 visa. 

There are a few ways you can prove that you do not intend to establish permanent residency. One is to show proof of an unabandoned foreign residence or any other real estate. You can show proof of any other property you own in your other country, such as a car, investments or bank accounts. 

During your interview at the U.S. embassy or consular office, they will evaluate your evidence and determine if there are any factors that could encourage you to return home or that could entice you to stay in the U.S. If immigration intent is presumed during border review, then the Department of Homeland security can turn away applicants and deny their visas. 

Worse, if officials think that any applicants are intentionally misrepresenting themselves, then officials could have them permanently barred from entering the U.S.

However, a dual intent visa does allow a foreign national to enter the U.S. as a nonimmigrant with the potential to apply for a green card (permanent residence) in the future for themselves and their children with an H 4 visa and spouse.

Why Should You Work with an Immigration Lawyer?

The visa process can be quite complex. Whether you are an employer or a potential employee, you are likely to encounter many challenges. One of the biggest challenges is a lack of understanding of visa options and requirements.

By speaking with an attorney, you can learn more about your options and the process. They can give you a better understanding of what employers and applicants need to do. After they explain the process, they can take you through it.

If you don’t want to face the challenges of obtaining a visa alone, you can work with the Florida Immigration Law Counsel. Our firm has the experience necessary to guide you and help you accomplish your immigration goals. Contact us today for more details.

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