You must begin the process with an employment offer. In that regard, a prospective employer may file an H-1B petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to classify you for temporary employment in a “specialty occupation” provided that your Bachelor’s Degree and proposed employment position qualify under immigration law.
If your prospective employer’s petition is granted, you would be classified in the “H-1B” non-immigrant visa classification and could be authorized to work for as many as six (6) total years. “Specialty occupation” means an occupation requiring the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform an occupation, and which requires the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree as a minimum requirement to perform the job duties. Specialty occupations include such professionals as engineers, computer professionals, accountants, system analysts, architects, physical therapists, scientists, librarians, market researchers, psychologists, financial analysts, management consultants, and some health care professionals.
Your prospective employer must obtain an approved Labor Condition Application from the U.S. Department of Labor before filing an H-1B petition. Additionally, if you are in the U.S. in a non-immigrant status such as an F-1 student, whether or not you are in your period of optional practical training (“OPT”), you may seek to change your classification from F-1 to H-1B without leaving the U.S. In the alternative, however, you may also apply for an H-1B visa at an American Consulate General or Embassy in your home country.
H-1B visas are subject to an annual quota for each government fiscal year. In that regard, 65,000 are allotted for traditional specialty occupations and an additional 20,000 are allotted for those H-1B aliens who have attained a Masters Degree or higher from a U.S. university. USCIS historically receives more H-1B petitions that are permitted under the annual quota so it begins accepting H-1B petitions for new employment on April 01 of each year for employment to begin on or after October 01 (the first day of fiscal year).
Employment for certain other specified employers and petitions for present H-1B beneficiaries who desire to extend their present H-1B classification or change employers are not subject to the annual quota.