This visa category applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.

Eligibility Criteria

Visa Category

H-1B Specialty Occupations

General Requirements

The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.*
  • For you to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:
  • Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
  • Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
  • Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.**

Labor Condition Application Required?

Yes. The prospective employer must file an approved Form ETA-9035, Labor Condition Application (LCA), with the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. See the links to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification and USCIS forms to the right.

For more information see the "Information for Employers & Employees" page.

Visa Category

H-1B2 DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker

General Requirements

The job must meet both of the following criteria to qualify as a DOD cooperative research and development project:

  • The cooperative research and development project or a co-production project is provided for under a government-to-government agreement administered by the U.S. Department of Defense
  • A bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent is required to perform duties.
  • To be eligible for this visa category you must meet one of the following criteria:
  • Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
  • Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation
  • Hold an unrestricted State license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
  • Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.**

Labor Condition Application Required?

No.

Visa Category

H-1B3 Fashion Model

General Requirements

The position/services must require a fashion model of prominence.

To be eligible for this visa category you must be a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.

Labor Condition Application Required?

Yes. The prospective employer must file an approved LCA with the Form I-129. See the links to the Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification and USCIS forms to the right.

*For more information, see 8 CFR §214.2(h)(4)(iii)(A).
**For more information see 8 CFR §214.2(h)(4)(iii)(C).

Period of Stay

As an H-1B nonimmigrant, you may be admitted for a period of up to three years. Your time period may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years, though some exceptions do apply under sections 104(c) and 106(a) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21).

Your employer will be liable for the reasonable costs of your return transportation if your employer terminates you before the end of your period of authorized stay. Your employer is not responsible for the costs of your return transportation if you voluntarily resign your position. You must contact the Service Center that approved your petition in writing if you believe that your employer has not complied with this requirement.

H-1B Cap

The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit "cap" of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Additionally, H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to this numerical cap.

For further information about the numerical cap, see our Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 H-1B Cap Season Web page.

Family of H-1B Visa Holders

Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in the H-4 nonimmigrant classification. Beginning May 26, 2015, certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, as long as the H-1B nonimmigrant has already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status