If you’re like most people, you’ve heard the term, “work permit,” and H-1B visa but aren’t sure what it actually means. A work permit is a colloquial term for the legal document that proves that the holder has a temporary legal right to live and work in the United States. 85,000 H-1B visas are granted each fiscal year, the H-1B visa is one type of visa that allows someone to come and work in the United States
What are the benefits of an H-1B visa (work permit)?
The H-1B visa benefits are significant, but limited. The work permit indicates that the holder has the right to live and work for a particular employer in the United States.
You may bring your spouse and children (under the age of 21) with you under an H4 visa, which gives them permission to live in the United States with you. They cannot work without their own H-1B visa/work permit.
It also serves as a reentry document, meaning that the holder has the right to reenter the United States after an absence.
It is significant to note that a permit-1B visa holder is neither a U.S. citizen nor a permanent resident. And, thereby, does not have all the rights associated with citizenship such as voting.
Does the H-1B expire?
Yes, the H-1B visa is granted for a three year period. It is commonly extended to six years upon request. There are very limited circumstances wherein the permit is extended beyond the six year time frame. Defense department workers may qualify for a 10 year work permit.
The visa also expires if you are no longer working for your H-1B employer. If you resign or are dismissed, you must leave the country immediately. However, your visa can be transferred to another sponsoring employer.
If you wish to remain in the United States, you have the options of obtaining permanent residency status (e.g. green card), leaving the United States for at least one year and reapply for an H-1B visa, or (if you still have time on your original visa) having your visa transferred to a new employer.
How do I get an H-1B visa?
A U.S. employer must apply for the work permit on your behalf and the application process takes between three and six months. You cannot apply for it on your own.
You must be highly educated (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree with appropriate licensing) and trained for a specialty occupation such as architecture, engineering, biotechnology, medicine/health, law, the arts, social sciences, physical sciences, education, and telecom. This list is not exhaustive.
Who makes the work permit rules?
The Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes work permits.
All immigration matters are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS.) The USCIS is an agency under the Department of Homeland Security. Although you’ve likely heard of “INS” and seen references to it on television, the INS was dissolved in 2003.
If you have questions regarding obtaining a work permit and obtaining an H-1B visa, be sure to consult with a qualified immigration attorney. Immigration is a very specialized area of law; be sure your attorney focuses his or her practice on immigration and getting work permits. We focus our practice on immigration law and you can reach us at 513-793-6555 or Thomasjr@geygan.com. We will gently walk you through the process and aggressively fight for your legal rights.