H-1B1 Visas

H-1B1 visas allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers from Chile and Singapore temporarily in specialty occupations. H-1B1 visas fit into the category of employment “H” visas because they are for non-immigrant workers.

What makes the H-1B1 visa unique from other H-1B visas?

H-1B1 visas are specifically for workers in certain specialty occupations from Chile and Singapore who wish to be employed in the U.S. temporarily. A worker using a H-1B1 visa cannot stay in the U.S. permanently. Because the H-1B1 is very similar to a H-1B visa, but is specifically for workers from Chile and Singapore, it is governed by many of the same rules that apply to the H-1B visa. Chilean and Singaporean citizens are not precluded from applying for and obtaining the H-1B visa.

Who qualifies for a H-1B1 visa?

The H-1B1 visa is specifically for specialty workers who are Singaporean or Chilean citizens who seek to work in the United States seasonally or temporarily. Besides being a Singaporean or Chilean citizen, you must desire to work in the United States in a specified professional or academic field that requires special expertise, a college (bachelor’s) degree or higher, or equivalent work experience to qualify for a H-1B1 visa.

Unlike individuals who work in the United States under the H-1B visa, individuals who qualify for the H-1B1 visa must demonstrate that they do not intend to immigrate to the United States and pursue permanent residence in the United States while living there as a H-1B1 visa holder.

Are there education requirements for the H-1B1 visa?

To meet the education requirements for a H-1B1 visa, Chilean or Singaporean citizens must have at least a bachelor’s level degree or higher from an accredited U.S. college, or an equivalent level degree from a foreign, non-U.S. college, or hold a state licence, certification, or registration that authorizes practice in a specialty occupation in the U.S. state where you desire to work.

What forms of employment qualify under the H-1B1 visa?

A H-1B1 visa is necessary for employment that minimally requires a bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent, or requires specialized knowledge obtainable usually through earning a bachelor’s degree or higher. The H-1B1 visa does not allow for self-employment or independent contracting.

Occupations that qualify under the H-1B1 visa include:

  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Physical sciences
  • Social sciences
  • Medicine and health
  • Education
  • Business specialties
  • Accounting
  • Law
  • Theology
  • The arts

Not all forms of employment qualify under the H-1B1 visa, even if you have a college degree or higher. A college degree alone is not sufficient if you are not working in a specialty occupation for which that college degree applies. For example, an individual with a college degree in engineering does not qualify for a H-1B1 visa if he or she will not be employed as an engineer, and instead seeks employment as an architect. However, such an individual may qualify for a H-1B1 visa to be employed as an architect if he or she has several years of professional experience working as an architect or also has a college degree or higher in architecture.

What is the process for obtaining a H-1B1 visa?

Like the H-1B visa, obtaining a H-1B1 visa is an employer-guided process. This means that employers who wish to hire a Singaporean or Chilean national are heavily involved in and are fundamental to the application process for a H-1B1 applicant.

The process for applying for a H-1B1 visa is nearly identical to the process for applying for a H-1B visa. H-1B1 visas are subject to their own cap and applicants are selected through a lottery system.

What if you are selected in the H-1B visa lottery?

Employers can file the H-1B1 petition only IF their applicant is selected in the lottery. While selected applicants can begin filing the necessary forms on April 1st, the earliest an employer or potential employer can initiate the visa process is 6 months prior to the employment date stated on the petition or 6 months prior to the expiration date of your current H-1B1 status.

The usual processing time for a H-1B1 visa to become active is 60-90 days, though this can be expedited to at most 15 days if a $2,500 premium processing fee is paid. The premium processing fee is refunded if the processing time lasts longer than 15 days.

At the start of the filing process, the employer or potential employer must first file a Labor Condition Application with the U.S. Department of Labor on the employee’s behalf. This application requires your employer or potential employer to show that it will treat you the same as other qualified workers in its same geographic area with regard to wage, and that other employees will be unaffected by your working conditions.

After the Labor Condition Application is certified by the Department of Labor, your employer or potential employer must then complete a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker via form I-129. Your employer or potential employer must submit form I-129 and the certified Labor Condition Application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as well as any fees and additional documentation that confirms your education level, certification, licensure, professional qualifications, employment or potential employment, and support from your employer or potential employer.

If you are already in the United States, after your form I-129 is approved, you can only begin working once your H-1B1 visa status becomes active.

If you are not in the United States at the time you form I-129 is approved, you must take necessary steps to lawfully enter the United States so you may begin working. To do so, you must first complete Form DS-160 online, pay the application fee, and schedule an interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy in Chile or Singapore, as applicable.

At your interview, you must have certain documents with you, including:

  • your passport
  • a printed copy of the confirmation page from your completion of Form DS-160
  • a copy of your approved form I-129 and I-797 approval (issued to you previously when your form I-129 application was approved)
  • receipts proving you paid your application fees and a passport-sized photo of you that conforms with U.S. Department of State guidelines.

How long are H-1B1 visas valid?

H-1B1 visas are valid for only one year. This is different from the three years allowed under the H-1B visa. H-1B1 visas may be extended under the originally filed Labor Condition Application only twice for additional one-year increments — totalling a three year stay. Further extensions can be obtained only by filing a new Labor Condition Application.

How much does it cost to apply for a H-1B1 visa?

The cost of a H-1B1 is in the thousands of dollars. Most if not all of this cost is generally paid by the employer, not the employee or potential employee.

Registration fee: It costs only $10 to register, and this is all that must be paid if the potential employee is not selected in the lottery.

Basic filing fee (form I-129): Any time the form I-129 is filed, it must be accompanied with a $460 filing fee. Thus, this fee applies to H-1B1 transfer costs, refiling, amendments, and renewals.

American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act Training Fee: Employers with 1-25 full time employees must pay $750 under this act, while employers with 26 or more full time employees must pay $1,500. Nonprofits affiliated with educational institutions, government research organizations, and primary or secondary educational institutions are exempt from this fee.

Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: New H-1B1 applicants or those changing to a new employer are charged $500 so that USCIS can better detect fraudulent use of the H-1B1 visa. This fee is not charged if an employee is extending his or her work with the same sponsoring employer.

Public Law 114-113 Fee: This is a $4,000 fee charged to companies that employ more than 50 workers where over half of the employees are on H-1B1 or L1 status.

Premium Processing Fee: This is an optional $2,500 fee charged to those who wish to expedite the H-1B1 visa process. It may be paid by either the employee or the employer. Payment of this fee and completion of form I-907 guarantees a 15-day processing time.

Is there a cap on the number of H-1B1 visa holders?

The U.S. government sets a cap on the amount of H-1B visas it will issue in its “fiscal year,” which begins every October. H-1B1 visa applicants are part of this cap. Like H-1B applicants, H-1B1 visa applicants are selected through a lottery-style process due to limitations on the amount of H-1B visas the government issues.

The USCIS limits the number of new H-1B1 visa workers with required skills and qualifications to 1,400 Chilean citizens and 5,400 Singaporean citizens per year. The cap for H-1B1 visas is included in, and not additional to, the cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per year.