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H-1B Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an H-1B?

A. The H-1B is a nonimmigrant classification used by an alien who will be employed temporarily in a specialty occupation.

Q. What is a specialty occupation?

A. A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts are specialty occupations.

Q. How long can an alien be in H-1B status?

A . Under current law, an alien can be in H-1B status for a maximum period of six years at a time. After that time an alien must remain outside the United States for one year before another H-1B petition can be approved.

Q. Who can an H-1B alien work for?

A. H-1B aliens may only work for the petitioning US employer and only in the H-1B activities described in the petition. H-1B aliens may work for more than one US employer, but must have an I-129 petition filed by each employer.

Q. Must an H-1B alien be working at all times?

A. As long as the employer/employee relationship exists, an H-1B alien is still in status. An H-1B alien may work in full or part-time employment and remain in status. An H-1B alien may also be on vacation, sick/ maternity/ paternity leave, on strike, or otherwise inactive without affecting his or her status.

Q. Can an H-1B alien intend to immigrate permanently to the US?

A. An H-1B alien can be the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition, apply for adjustment of status, or take other steps toward green card status without affecting H-1B status. This is known as "dual intent." During the time that the application for green card status is pending, an alien may travel on his or her H-1B visa rather than obtaining advance parole or request other advance permission from the INS to return to the US