By Atty. James G. Beirne

The strength of U.S. business depends on the quality of their employees. Companies recruit professionals from all over the globe in fields ranging from computer technology, science, medicine, law and finance. This popular visa allows foreign skilled professionals to fill a position in the U.S. for a specified period of time. In order to qualify, the individual must have a job that is considered a “specialty occupation.”
A “specialty occupation” is one where a bachelor’s degree or equivalent is required for the job. Jobs such as a lawyer, doctor, or financial analyst require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, or higher. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, there are some ways around this.

With the help of an immigration lawyer, you can prove that your work experience is equivalent to degree in your field. Often someone may have a degree that is not in keeping with the current job that is being applied for. A knowledgeable immigration attorney can also work out these types of problems.

On great advantage to obtaining this type of visa is that it has a “dual intent.” You can apply for a green card and have it pending, while still using or even extending your H-1B visa.

In order to obtain this visa, your employer must file an H-1B petition. Once the Immigration and Naturalization Service approves the form, the H-1B worker is called a beneficiary.

It is important to be aware that this visa is employer specific. This means that as a beneficiary, you are only allowed to work for the company that filed your petition. If you changed jobs for instance, your new employer would need to file a new petition. By the same token, if you wanted to work for more than one company, each company would have to file their own petition.

Generally, these visas are good for three years; however, it is possible to obtain a three-year extension. If you wish to stay beyond the six-year maximum, steps would need to be taken to start the process of obtaining a green card (permanent residency).

Unfortunately, there is a limit as to how many H-1B petitions the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will approve every year, which is 65,000. They are only issued during the government fiscal year, which goes from October 1st to September 30th each year.

Once you obtain your visa, you will be obligated to comply with various conditions. Your employer has a requirement to pay the “prevailing wage” for instance.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Obtaining a H-1B visa is not a simple or intuitive process. The petition must include the necessary documents, and be presented in such a way as to make a favorable impression. If your degree does not match the job involved, or the job you are applying for is not necessarily considered a “specialty occupation”, it is all the more important to have a skilled lawyer working on your behalf. Also, there are relatively short periods of opportunity available to obtain a H-1B visa. It important to be sure that your documents are submitted correctly, and in a timely manner. Any problem with your documents could mean delays, which could cost you your visa.

Contact the Law Offices of James G. Beirne for advice and guidance. Our team of experienced immigration lawyers has helped thousands successfully obtain the immigration documents they needed to successfully live and work in the U.S. We provide all types of immigration services including family, fiancé and employment petitions, student and investor visas, visa extensions, naturalization and much more. Come in today and speak with an immigration lawyer from our team. We will provide you with sound legal advice as well as a free consultation. We have three locations to serve you, Glendale (818) 552-4500, Cerritos (562) 865-4480 and West Covina (626) 262-4446. With your first appointment, you will receive legal guidance and a free consultation, so call today.


An active member of the State Bar of California and the State Bar of Nevada, James G. Beirne is also a member of the highly respected American Immigration Lawyers Association and Los Angeles County Bar Association Immigration Section. He is admitted to practice before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, all federal district courts in California and Nevada, California state courts, and Nevada state courts. Mr. Beirne has represented clients in numerous immigration cases. His offices are located at 520 E. Wilson Ave., Suite 110, Glendale, CA 91206, and 17215 Studebaker Rd., Suite 380, Cerritos, CA 90703, with telephone numbers (818) 552-4500; (562) 865-4480; and (866) 903-4522. He also has offices at 2640 E. Garvey Ave., Suite 104, West Covina 91791, with tel. no. (626) 262-4446. His newest office is at Valencia Executive Plaza, Suite 200-E, 27201 Tourney Road, Valencia, CA 91355, tel. no. (661) 200-0644.

(Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Results may vary depending on the facts of a particular case. We make no prediction, warranty or guarantee about the results of any case, nor do we assume any legal liability for the completeness of any information and its impact on the results of any case. Each case is different and results depend on the facts of each case. Consult with and retain counsel of your own choice if you need legal advice.)