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H-1B is a visa classification that allows those who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher to live and work in the US as “specialty workers” in jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. Physical Therapists are included in this classification. The maximum allotted visas authorized by Congress are 65,000 new H1B visas per fiscal year. Some employers and some employees are not subject to this numerical “cap.”

After you file form I-129 (Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker), USCIS will send you a receipt so you know that USCIS have received your petition. If your petition is incomplete, USCIS may have to reject it and return your fee, or ask you for more evidence or information, which will delay processing. USCIS will notify you when a decision is made. If the prospective employee is in the U.S. in a valid nonimmigrant status, he or she can begin working for the employer upon approval of the Form I- 129 petitions. If the prospective employee is residing outside the U.S. or appears to be ineligible to change his or her status while in the U.S., the petition will be sent to the U.S. consulate nearest the prospective employee’s foreign residence. The prospective employee can then apply at the U.S. consulate for a non-immigrant visa. If the visa is issued, he or she will then be able to travel to the U.S. and apply for admission. An employer can file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, with the appropriate fee, concurrently with the Form I- 129, or after receiving the receipt notice for the Form I- 129, at the USCIS location where the Form I-129 was filed. The initial period of stay granted to a temporary employee is three years with an extension of six years. It usually takes 3-6 months for standard processing for USCIS to process the H1b petition and 14 days for premium processing if the quota is not reached.

H-1b nonimmigrant workers may be able to maintain lawful nonimmigrant status and, at the same time, be beneficiaries of an immigrant visa petition. H1b workers may take certain steps toward obtaining lawful Permanent resident status without affecting their non-immigrant status.

Students in Optional Practical Training with employers who wish to maintain their employment, as well as any other prospective employee should also begin preparation now for any H-1B filing.  Copies of diplomas, previous employment letters, transcripts of courses taken, proof of nonimmigrant status and a detailed resume are some of the documents that will be needed for filing the H-1B package.


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