FAQs

What could be considered a “specialty occupation” that qualifies for an H-1B visa?

A "specialty occupation" qualifying for an H-1B visa is any job that requires the “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform the occupation AND requires the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.” The position must require a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific field and the beneficiary must have the required degree.

Can I file an H-1B visa for myself?

No, a U.S. employer must file an H-1B petition on your behalf.

Can I change employers if I have an H-1B?

The new employer must file an H-1B petition on your behalf. You may legally work for the new employer upon filing of the H-1B petition.

Can my H-1B status be extended beyond the six year limit?

Extensions are possible if an employer files a PERM case or an I-140 petition on your behalf at least one year before you reach the six-year limit in H-1B status. Thereafter, your H-1B status may be extended in one-year increments. Once you have an approved I-140 petition, your H-1B status may be extended in three-year increments until your priority date is current.

I was laid off by my employer. Can I stay in the U.S.?

If you are working in the U.S. with an H-1B visa, you have up to 60 days or until your I-94 expires (whichever comes first) to find a new sponsor for a change of employer, apply for a change of status, or leave the U.S.   

How is an O-1 visa different from an H-1B?

Unlike the H-1B, the O-1 has no numerical limit. There is no minimum prevailing wage requirement, although the wages offered should be what is expected for someone in a position of O-1 caliber. While premium processing is occasionally suspended for H-1B petitions, it remains available for O-1 petitions.

What does it mean to have “extraordinary abilities” that qualify for an O-1 visa?

A person may qualify for an O-1 visa if they have a level of expertise that is not common and are part of a small elite group of individuals at the top of their indicated field.

Can my family join me under the O-1?

Yes, spouses and children of an O-1 are eligible to be in O-3 status. Dependents need to show evidence proving the familial relationship. Dependents cannot be employed but may attend school.

Can I work another job other than the proposed job on my O-1 visa?

No, if you are an O-1 you can only work in your identified job and any connected events pertaining to it.

What is the difference between an L-1A and an L-1B visa?

L-1A visas are for managers and executives. L-1B visas are for specialized knowledge employees.

Can family members of L-1 visa holders work and study?

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of L-1 visa holders may seek work authorization and dependents may study at U.S. schools.

Who can file a petition for NIW?

You may self-petition for NIW or an employer may file on your behalf.

Is a job offer required for a NIW?

No.

Is there a minimum requirement of publications or citations for the NIW?

No, this varies because it is all determined by the USCIS on a case-by-case basis.

How many recommendation letters should be submitted for NIW?

Generally, it is suggested to submit four to six letters when petitioning for NIW, but there is no specific number.

When submitting letters of recommendation for NIW, what information should be included?

  1. Qualifications of the recommender: A description of the recommender establishing their qualifications that qualify them to evaluate your work.
  2. Substantive information: The letter should describe your unique expertise in your field. If the recommendation letter is from your employer or professor, it needs to outline the responsibilities and the requirements of the job you performed. The letters must describe how your endeavors significantly contribute to the U.S. national interest. 

What if there is a job change while the NIW petition is pending?

If your employer sponsors your NIW petition, a new petition may have to be filed. If you petition for yourself, changing employers should not affect the status of the case. The new position must continue to satisfy the requirements of the NIW.

Can I self-petition for an EB-1 visa?

Yes you can self-petition for EB-1 or an employer may sponsor you.

Do I need a job offer to qualify for the EB-1 visa?

No. EB-1 does not require a job offer, but you must articulate how you intend to continue working in your field. You do not need to go through the PERM labor certification process.

Who qualifies for cancellation of removal?

A nonpermanent resident can qualify for cancellation of removal if they can demonstrate that they have been in the U.S. for the last ten years, are of good moral character, have not been convicted of specified criminal offenses, and their removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a spouse, parent or child who is a legal permanent resident or U.S. citizen.

Sheila Starkey Hahn

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Ms. Starkey Hahn has devoted her entire legal career to the practice of immigration law. She has helped thousands of satisfied individuals and companies achieve their immigration goals by providing trustworthy and effective legal advice. Ms. Starkey…

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