Understanding H-1B visas

On Behalf of | May 19, 2019 | Employment Immigration

At the Law Offices of Robert P. Gaffney in California, we represent many immigrants who are seeking ways to bring family members or friends into the United States on at least a temporary basis that hopefully can change to permanent status in the future.

If this description fits you, one way to do this is to have your relative or friend look into the H-1B visa program. As the American Immigration Council explains, the H-1B visa program is employer sponsored, meaning that it originates with American employers. Each year, employers who seek highly educated, skilled and qualified foreign “specialty occupation” workers apply to the USAIC on the first business day in April to get an H-1B visa allotment.

Unfortunately, the U.S. grants only 65,000 such visas each year, plus an additional 20,000 for foreign workers who have obtained a master’s or doctorate degree from an American university. Whichever type of H-1B visa your relative or friend qualifies for, (s)he must be able to work in one of the following fields:

  • Technology
  • Math
  • Science
  • Engineering


If your friend or relative will be working for one of the following types of employers, (s)he is exempt from the 85,000 annual cap on H-1B visas:

  • Department of Defense research and development projects
  • Government research organizations
  • Nonprofit research organizations
  • Higher learning institutions

Status and time length

Obtaining an H-1B visa allows your friend or relative to come to the U.S. for at least three years, classified as a temporary nonimmigrant worker in a specialty occupation. Many of these visas get extended for three additional years.

For more information, please visit this page of our website.