H-1B General Information
H-1B status may be granted initially for a maximum of 3 years. Extensions may be granted after that for up to a maximum of 6 years. This includes H-1B employment with all employers in the U.S. as well as time spent in L-1 status. In certain circumstances this period can be extended for H-1B visa holders who are in the process of becoming a permanent resident based on employment. After 6 years in this classification an individual must be physically outside the U.S. for at least one year before resuming eligibility for the H-1B visa.
The H-1B visa holder is lawfully allowed to have "dual intent" which means the individual may be employed in a temporary position while at the same time working toward permanent residency.
The employee may not begin work until the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued an approval notice granting the H-1B classification as well as valid starting and ending dates. The "portability privilege" may apply if the employee already holds the H-1B classification from another employer in the U.S. Portability allows the individual to begin work upon receiving notice that the petition has been received by USCIS rather than waiting for official approval of the petition, assuming the individual is not currently out of status for other reasons.
The H-1B visa holder may be employed only by the employer whose petition has been filed on behalf of the individual and only in the position and salary described therein. In other words, it is both employer specific and position specific. The position may be part-time, as long as the individual does not exceed the hours and salary specified in the H-1B petition. If the beneficiary is working on a part-time basis, the department must keep track of the total number of hours actually worked each week.
H-1B visa holders may not receive wages, salaries or gratuities for giving speeches or lectures at universities other than where employed. However, the individual may be reimbursed for travel, lodging and reasonable, incidental living expenses.
See H-1B Travel Guidelines for information regarding travel outside the U.S.
Spouses and dependent minor children are given the H-4 visa classification. In this classification they are not eligible to work in the U.S. under any circumstances. They may attend school. Spouses and dependent children may be eligible for other visa classifications in their own right, such as student (F-1), temporary worker (H-1B), or exchange visitor (J-1).
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