Usually, most people in the United States think of immigrant visas as “green cards,” documents that allow people from foreign countries to remain in the United States and work. Another very different type of visa, however, is granted to workers who desire to work in the U.S. for a time, but have expressed no desire to actually immigrate. Approximately 85,000 of these visas, known as H1-B visas, were issued to foreign citizens in 2008.
Professionals who hold these visas work in specialty occupations and have the U.S. equivalency of at least a bachelor degree in at least one specified discipline, such as science, the arts, theology, health or education. Several other specialty fields are included in this classification. For a complete list, consult the USCIS website.
In order to demonstrate that their foreign degrees or diplomas are equal to a U.S. degree, most workers are required to obtain an equivalency evaluation from a foreign credentials evaluation agency, such as Career Consulting International. This is particularly true for individuals from countries such as India, Pakistan, and some European Countries who hold 3-year degrees. These credential evaluations are also used for other purposes such as education and immigration, in the event that a person desires to apply for permanent resident status.
Generally, people who hold H1-B visas are allowed to remain in this country for three years after obtaining the visa. These visas can be renewed one time, and allow a person to remain in the U.S. as a temporary worker for up to six years total. Individuals interested in staying longer or becoming permanent residents should consider applying for I-140 status instead.
This article was written by Staff