H1B1 WORK VISA FOR CHILE AND SINGAPORE PROFESSIONALS
American employers may be willing to sign the paperwork for an H1B1 work visa for professional employees who are citizens of Chile or Singapore.
Certain professionals (those with a 4 year college degree, or the equivalent) granted an H1B1 visa are allowed to enter the USA temporarily to work for 18 months at a time, but only if they are hired for a job that is considered a “specialty occupation.”
How Do I Get an H1b1 Visa?
There are 2 ways:
1. Make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy outside of the USA. Show the Consular Officer the correct documents. Ask for an H1B1 visa (the process takes about 2-3 weeks) ; or,
2. If you are already inside the USA in legal status (not ESTA Visa Waiver) ask the American employer to mail a request to the USCIS for an H1B1 visa. It will take the USCIS 4-6 months to process the application (no expedite is possible) and you cannot start working until it is approved. Most American employers do not wish to wait, so this option is not chosen every often.
For my first H1b1 Visa, can I go to a U.S. Embassy that is not in my Home Country?
Sometimes. The best way to find out is to email the U.S. Embassy you wish to go to and ask. Most of the times you will get an email back that ways “you can make an appointment, but we cannot guarantee your success” and then you will have to decide whether you want to give it a try.
For my second H1b1 Visa, can I go to a U.S. Embassy that is not in my Home Country?
Yes, there is a higher chance of success, but unfortunately there is no guarantee. However, the U.S. Embassies that are not in your home country are more comfortable granting a second H1B1 visa if another U.S. Embassy already granted you one previously.
What Are Specialty Occupations for H1b1 Visas?
Specialty occupations for H1b1 visas are usually jobs that require a 4 year college degree at the minimum. However, there are some exceptions:
- Business persons who do not possess a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent, but who will engage in the professions of: for Chileans only – Agricultural Managers, and Physical Therapists, and for both Chileans and Singaporeans – Disaster Relief Claims Adjusters; or,
- Foreign nationals from Chile and Singapore who are Management Consultants who hold a baccalaureate degree in other than their specialty area.
“I just wanted to check in with you to let you know the H1B1 visa application at the Embassy went well and I’m back in the USA on my H1B1 visa! So thank you ever so much for your help during this process. You were so incredibly helpful and clear with what needed to be done and it was such a painless procedure as such. “
Dr. NM from Singapore, Veterinarian
As an experienced Immigration Attorney, I can help with the following:
- Educational Evaluation (to prove work experience is equal to a college degree);
- Labor Condition Application (LCA);
- New H1B1-Visas;
- Transfer from an H4 Visa to an H1B1 Visa;
- Transfer from an F-1 Student Visa to an H1B1 Visa;
- Extension of an existing H1B1 Visa;
- Transfer from a B1/B2 Visa to an H1B1 Visa; or,
- Transfer from a TN visa to an H1B1 Visa.
Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who wish to live in the U.S. with the H1b1 Visa professional worker can also get an H4 visa.
What is the exact definition of an H1B1 Visa specialty occupation?
The definition of “specialty occupation” for an H1b1 Visa is one that requires:
- A complex job that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge; AND,
- A Bachelor’s or higher degree (equivalent to an American 4 year college degree) that matches the job – for example, a finance degree for a financial analyst, an engineering degree for an engineer job, a DVM for a veterinarian position, etc).
Does my American employer need to get an LCA (Labor Condition Application) certified on my behalf for an H1B1 Visa? How?
Yes. American employers must obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor. Most American employers do not know how to get an LCA certified, and hire American immigration attorneys to do it for them. We are often hired by American employers to get an LCA certification (also known as an ETA 9035E or 9035E ) on the employer’s behalf.
Can my family accompany me if I get an H1B1 Visa?
Yes, the spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of H1B1 Visa holders are eligible for dependent H4 visa status. The dependent spouse and children of an H1B1 non-immigrant do not have to be Chilean or Singaporean Citizens to be eligible for H4 status.
May spouses of H1B1 Visa holders work?
Regrettably, spouses and children are not authorized to work while in the U.S. in H4 visa status, but they are permitted to study.
Is there a cap (annual numerical limit) on the number of H1B1 Visas issued each year?
The Chile & Singapore Free Trade Agreement requires that the USCIS reserve 6,800 H1B visas for eligible citizens of Chile and Singapore. H4 dependents (spouses and children) are not counted toward this annual limit, nor are H1B1 extension applications. We do not expect that the annual limit of H1b1 visas will be reached (at least so far it has never been reached).
What are the employer’s obligations for H1B1 Visa sponsorship?
The salary offered to the H1B1 Visa worker must be high enough to meet the Department of Labor’s prevailing wage requirements for the job offered in the geographic location where you will work. The employer must also keep a special “public access” file that includes your salary information at the workplace that is available for public inspection.
How long is my H-1B1 Visa valid? 12 Months or 18 Months?
The Department of State tells the U.S. Consulates abroad to issue an 18 month visa sticker for H1B1 visas. The purpose of the H1b1 visa stamp (sticker in passport) is to allow a person to enter the USA in H1B1 visa status. THE H1B1 ENTRY ALONE DOES NOT GRANT WORK AUTHORIZATION.
When an H1b1 visa holder enters the USA, the American immigration officers at the airport or border can only give an I-94 entry record expiration date that allows 12 months entry at a time (or less if the H1b1 stamp in the passport, the LCA, or the passport itself expires sooner). There is a special law (see below) that restricts each entry of an H1B1 visa holder to 12 months or less.
Here’s another way to look at it: an H1B1 visa holder must have 3 things:
- (1) H1b1 visa stamp (sticker in passport that allows entry);
- (2) valid I-94; AND
- (3) valid LCA
in order to have work authorization. And, keep in mind that an H1B1 visa holder needs paystubs to prove they are working (and therefore not “out of status”).
The 12 month rule creates a dilemma for the H1B1 visa holder. They have an H1B1 visa stamp in their passport and an approved LCA for 18 months, but only have an I-94 for 12 months. The H1B1 visa holder is only allowed to stay in the USA until the I-94 or LCA expires – whichever expires sooner.
SOLUTION: If the I-94 is going to expire (but the H1B1 visa stamp and LCA are still valid) the H1B1 visa holder is expected to exit the USA and re-enter (can be done on the same day) using their valid H1B1 visa stamp and valid LCA to re-set the I-94 expiration date and get another 12 months (or whatever they have left on the LCA).
But Wait, I Thought H1B1 Visas were Valid for 18 Months, Not 1 year?
The validity of an H1B1 visa (the sticker in the passport) refers to the time in which an applicant may apply to enter the USA at a port of entry for admittance into the United States. The 18 month H1B1 visa sticker in the passport has no bearing on the length of time for which the alien may be admitted.
All the H1B1 sticker does is tell the immigration officers at the port of entry that you can ask for an H1B1 visa. Then, the immigration officers will decide how long to let you stay in the USA (the rules say no longer than 12 months at a time, see below).
The port of entry officers decide how long the entry to the USA should be by looking at their rules, and they stamp the “real” expiration date (which often differs from the H1B1 visa stamp expiration date) on a page in the passport. Sometimes, in addition to stamping the real expiration date in ink on a passport page, they also put that date in the I-94 Entry Download online system that reflects the same expiration date on it.
The H1B1 visa holder is not supposed to stay in the USA or work in the USA after the expiration date that was decided upon by the immigration officer at the port of entry – no matter what the H1B1 visa stamp (sticker in passport) indicates.
In other words, even though the H-1B1 visa stamp (sticker put in the passport) are normally valid for 18 months, the validity of the H-1B1 visa expiration date stamp that an applicant gets at a port of entry (a) cannot exceed the validity period of the Labor Condition Application (LCA) AND (b) can only be for a maximum of a 1 year period. If the LCA expires prior to 12 months, the validity of the H1b1 visa stay is supposed to expire when the LCA expires (even if it is less than 12 months).
What is the Designation for the H1B1 Visa on my online I-94 Entry Record? How Do I Download My I-94 Entry Record? What If the I-94 Designation is Wrong?
“HSC” is the designation for an H1B1 visa holder for the I-94 system. The I-94 online system does not have enough room to input “H1B1” so the CBP designated “HSC” for H1B1 visas. However, many airport officers do not know this, and they put H1B instead. If this happens, it is a good idea to ask the CBP office that is closest to you to make a correction.
Where are these Rules the Immigration Officers at the Port of Entry Use Regarding the 12 Month Length of Stay for H1B1 Visas?
There is a 600 page rule book that the Immigration Officers at the American port of entries (airports and land borders) use called the Inspector’s Field Manual. The “CBP Inspector’s Field Manual ( IFM)” §15.4 lists all of the nonimmigrant visa classifications and their periods of admission. On pages 153-154 it states:
“Terms of admission: Admit H1b1 initially for a maximum of one year”
“Notations on I-94 Front: H-1B1, (date to which admitted); I-94 Reverse: Occupation and employer”
“The admission, extension of stay, or change of status may not be for a period longer than 1 year, even if the relevant provision of 8 CFR 214.2 would ordinarily permit the alien’s admission for a longer period.”
Is the H1B1 Visa Renewable?
H-1B1 visa status is renewable indefinitely, provided that you are able to demonstrate that you do not intend to remain or work permanently in the U.S. (i.e., no green card pending). There are two ways to renew; either (a) the employer can mail in the renewal 4-6 months ahead of time, or (b) the H1b1 visa holder can ask for a new one at a U.S. Embassy outside of the USA.
The Chile or Singapore citizen may be asked to prove “residence” in their home country at any time. Provided the Chile or Singapore citizen is able to demonstrate that they do not intend to remain or work permanently in the United States, the H1B1 Visa can be renewed either through the mail or at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
Can I work for multiple employers with my H1B1 Visa?
Possibly. You either need (a) an H1B1 visa stamp (sticker in your passport) with 2 employers’ names on it from the Embassy/Consulate; or, (b) an I-129 I-797 Approval Notice from the USCIS to work for a second employer.
What is the procedure for getting the second H1b1 employer added?
The existence of an LCA alone does not provide authorization to work for a second employer. Either (a) you go to an embassy/consulate and get a new H1b1 sticker (they will cancel your existing one) with 2 employers’ names/LCA numbers on it; or (b) the new employer files an I-129/LCA and waits 4-8 months for it to be approved.
2017 PROBLEMS GETTING MULTIPLE EMPLOYERS ON H1B1 VISA STAMP AT EMBASSY
In order to request two employers on the H1B1 visa stamp, you must submit multiple sets of documents (two LCAs, two H1B1 job offer letters, etc.). However, many Consular Officers do not know it is possible to put two employers’ names on the H1b1 visa stamp (sticker).
Sometimes it works to ask a Supervisor. It is helpful (to the Consular Officers) if an abbreviation of the employer’s name is indicated on the job offer letter (practically speaking, if both employer’s names are too long they simply won’t fit on the sticker).
However, in 2017 my clients’ passports are being returned with only one employer’s name on it (even though they promised to put both on it). If this happens, I highly recommend to ask for a corrected sticker, which will delay the process.
Can I Get My Second H1B1 Visa Employer Approved at the Border?
No. Some of my clients have tried to go to the border of Canada or Mexico and ask that the I-94 records be changed to reflect the second employer’s name/LCA number, but the border officers would not do it. They ended up flying to a U.S. Embassy outside of the USA to get their new H1b1 stamp with two employers’ names on it.
Can I change H1B1 Visa employers?
Yes, but in order to work for a new employer, you must either (a) ask your new employer to mail an application and wait for an I-797A Approval Notice because the H1B1 Visa must be approved before you start work; or (b) go to a U.S. Embassy outside the USA and ask for another H1b1 Visa Stamp (sticker) in your passport with the new employer’s name and LCA number on it, and re-enter the USA.
If you select the mail-in option, just be aware that (a) if you leave the country while it is pending, it will be considered abandoned; and (b) you will not get a new H1B1 visa stamp (sticker) in the mail with the I-797 Approval Notice. Only the embassies can issue the H1B1 visa stamps.
Does the first H1B1 Visa Have to be Issued by a U. S. Consulate/Embassy?
No, an I-129 application may be mailed to the USCIS to change status to H1B1 Visa if the applicant is already in the USA in a different visa status (but status change is not allowed if you are in the USA in ESTA visa waiver status).
Can I Apply for an American Green Card While in H1B1 Visa Status?
Sorry, no. Some visas allow a visa holder to apply for an American green card and others do not. When a work visa is a “dual intent” visa, the visa holder is allowed to pursue permanent residence (a green card) while being in temporary visa status.
For example, one of the “dual intent” visas is called the H-1B Visa.
Visas like the H1B1 Visa, E-3 Visa for Australians, as well as the TN Visa for Canadians and Mexicans, are “single intent” visas and that is why the applicant has to demonstrate residence abroad and why simultaneous application for a green card is not supposed to occur.
Is There a 60 Day Grace Period?
Yes. An official 60 day grace period went into effect on January 17, 2017 for nonimmigrant workers in E-1, E-2, E-3, H1B, H1B1, L-1, O-1, and TN status, following the loss of employment during which the visa holder maintains visa status for the purposes of filing for a change or extension of status.
May I be self-employed under the H1B1 Visa?
No, you must work for a US employer.
What if I am a Permanent Resident of Chile or Singapore?
Only Chilean or Singaporean citizens are eligible as H1B1 applicants. However, the H1B1 Visa worker’s spouse and children do not have to be citizens of Chile or Singapore.
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