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H-1B visas are available for alien workers who have at least a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent (combined experience) and a job offer from a US employer for a professional position qualified as a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is an occupation that requires “theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge” gained from courses in a 4-year college, Master’s degree program, Ph.D. program, or through extensive years of experience equivalent to a particular degree.

An alien worker can be in H-1B status for a maximum period of six years. After that time, an alien must stay outside the United States for one year before another H-1B petition can be approved. However, aliens may obtain an extension of H-1B status beyond the 6-year maximum period if:

  • 365 days or more have passed since the filing of an application for labor certification, Form ETA 750, that is required or used by the alien to obtain status as an EB immigrant;
  • 365 days or more have passed since the filing of an EB immigrant petition; or
  • A PERM application was filed at least 1 year before the end of the 6 years stay and an EB immigrant petition still pend sing.

An alien may change jobs without affecting status, but the new H-1B employer must file a new Form I-129 petition for the alien before he or she begins working for the new employer. The merger or sale of an H-1B employer’s business will not affect the alien’s status in many instances.