The H-1B visa is an important facet of the economy of the United States, allowing U.S.
employers access to unavailable skilled workers.  Unfortunately, visa allocation for this
important category has severely decreased making access limited to many eligible
employees.  

In general, to qualify for an H-1B, the position in question must require at a minimum,
someone who possesses a bachelor's degree or its equivalent.  It is a dual
requirement, that is, the position must be complex, or require specialized knowledge,
and the employee must possess the requisite education, which is a bachelor's degree
or its equivalent.  

The process of obtaining this visa requires a certification from the Department of Labor
in regards to salary, labor conditions and certain employer attestations.  Upon
certification the petition may then be filed with proper Service Center of the USCIS with
jurisdiction.  

Upon approval, the employee will be admitted for a initial period of three years, which
may be extended another three years.  In certain situations extensions may be provided
beyond six years if there is a pending labor certification filed on behalf of the employee.

As of April 1st 2005, those employers seeking to hire qualified H-1B candidates  may
begin the application process.  With the signature of President Bush, the Omnibus
Appropriations Act, which contained the Visa Reform Act of 2005, became effective
December 8, 2004.  The Act reinstitutes the American Competitiveness and Workforce
Improvement Act of 1998, and raises the fees to $1500.  Those employers who employ
less than 25 full-time employees are allowed to pay only $750.  In addition to the $1500
fee, an additional Fraud and Detection fee of $500 is also included, making total fees
for the filing of a non-premium application $2185.  

For the fiscal year of 2006, only 65,000 visas are available for this category.  However,
the new Act exempts the first 20,000 H-1B beneficiaries who possess a master's degree
or higher from a U.S. Institution of higher learning.   As occurred last fiscal year, we
expect the cap to be reached before October, so we advise all employers to begin the
process as soon as possible.  
Isais & Pfeiffer, LLP
445 S. Figueroa St. Suite 2600
Los Angeles, CA 90071
213-426-2100
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experienced in immigration law.
 
Isais & Pfeiffer, LLP
An Immigration and Naturalization Law Firm
The H-1B Visa
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