The H-1B is a type of non-immigrant visa foreign workers can receive through the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. The H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to provide temporary workers with jobs in specialty occupations. Under this visa program, if the worker is fired or quits they must either find a new job, apply to change their immigration status or leave the United States.

According to the regulations governing this visa program a “specialty occupation” is a job requiring the application of highly specialized knowledge for which a bachelor’s degree or some equivalent level of training and certification is required. The H-1B visa is commonly used to hire foreign nationals to work in accounting, architecture, biotechnology, business specialties, chemistry, engineering, health, law, mathematics, medicine, physical and social sciences, theology, and the arts. Fashion models “of distinguished merit and ability” may also receive H-1B visas.

Duration Of Stay

Workers with an H-1B visa may legally remain in the U.S. for up to three years. Their stay can be extended to six years. In certain circumstances, there are exceptions made to the maximum length of their stay. Foreign nationals working for the Department of Defense have can remain in the United States for as long as ten years. Workers from certain countries have a maximum period of stay that’s less than three years.

Yearly Numerical Cap

Congress has set a limit on the number of foreign nationals that may enter the United States each year via standard H-1B visas. Currently, that number is 65,000. An additional 20,000 foreign workers that have a master’s degree or higher issued from an American university can receive an exemption from this limit. Free Trade Agreements have set aside 1,400 H-1B1 visas for people that are Chilean nationals. Plus 5,400 H-1B1 visas are reserved for Singapore nationals. When those totals are not used, they are added to the exemptions to the H-1B quota for 2018.

Accepting Applications

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services starts accepting applications beginning in April on the first day of business. Those visas count as part of the fiscal year which begins in October. USCIS accepts H-1B visa applications within 6 months of the start date that’s requested. People holding cap-subject H-1B status and those that have had H-1B status during the past six years do not count against the annual cap.


Each year in April the H-1B season begins for the upcoming federal fiscal year. On October 1st employment authorizations are granted. The earliest applicants can apply is on the first weekday of April because of the six-month window for pre-employment application limit. Those applications apply to the cap-subject H-1B for the next year’s allotment. Once the limit on cap-subject application has been reached, a random selection process called the H-1B lottery begins. People with the U.S. master’s exemption are given two chances for selection in the lottery.

Recent Changes

Reforms to the H-1B visa program were recently proposed by the White House. Those changes could make it easier for families coming to the U.S. to get tech sector jobs. The changes would enable the spouses of some people holding H-1B visas to work in the U.S. if the H-1B visa holder is applying for permanent residence. Tech companies in the United States have been calling for the changes for some time.

It is time to apply for the H-1B Visa for this year. Please contact the Law Offices of Sweta Khandelwal should you require any assistance in the understanding the H-1B quota for 2018, assistance applying for an H-1B Visa or any other immigration matter.