Obtaining An H-1B Visa
H-1B visa status can be obtained in one of two ways:
- If the individual is abroad, after certain application procedures are accomplished, the foreign national may receive an H-1B visa at a U.S. consulate.
- If the foreign national is already in the U.S. and maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status in another visa category, he or she may usually apply for a change of status to H-1B. Note: If the H-1B employee is already on an H-1B visa in the U.S., Florida Tech will still need to process an H-1B visa petition on behalf of the employee.
The H-1B visa petition and approval process can take anywhere from 2.5–8 months to complete. Florida Tech cannot initiate the H-1B visa petition any earlier than 6 months prior to the start of work. Note: There is no guarantee that the H-1B visa petition will be approved, even if the foreign national was able to obtain an H-1B originally.
An individual can maintain H-1B visa status for a maximum of 6 years. Employers can only petition for H-1B visa for 3 years at a time, meaning an extension petition would be necessary. When an individual reaches the 6-year limit, they must leave the U.S. and live abroad for 1 year before they are eligible for H-1B visa status again. An extension beyond 6 years may be permissible for those for whom a Form I-140 Immigration petition for Alien Worker has been filed and whose labor certification or I-140 was filed for at least 365 days before the extension is requested. There is an exception to the 6-year limit of stay when the foreign national’s U.S. stays are intermittent, seasonal or aggregate of less than 6 months a year.
If the hiring department terminates employment prior to the expiration date of the H-1B visa, the hiring department is responsible for paying the airfare home for the foreign national. It is important to note that if an H1B has dependents with him/her in the US, the hiring department is not responsible for their transportation.