If you work in a specialized professional occupation such as technology, engineering or mathematics, you may be able to reside legally in the United States for three to six years with the H-1B visa program. Currently, the U.S. admits 65,000 H-1B workers annually, with 20,000 additional spots available for those who have earned a graduate degree from an American university. 

Explore the process of obtaining an H-1B visa and learn more about whether you may qualify. 

The lottery procedure 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services opens the application process on April 1 each year and accepts eligible applications for the 85,000 available visas. When applications exceed the cap within five business days, a computer-generated lottery randomly selects H-1B visa recipients from the submissions (first filling the positions for non-U.S. graduate degree holders, then those for degree holders). USCIS has used the lottery process every year since 2014, including for 2020 applications. 

Eligibility requirements 

To have a chance for an H-1B visa, you must have an existing relationship with an U.S.-based employer who will petition for your visa in one of these areas: 

  • A specialized occupation that requires at least a bachelor’s degree 
  • A Department of Defense research and development project 
  • Fashion modeling with unique or distinguished ability 

How to apply 

Eligible applicants must submit Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker, along with a $460 filing fee and all required documentation. Your prospective employer must file Form ETA-9035, Labor Condition Application. Both you and your employer will receive written notice of application receipt. If you meet the initial requirements, you will receive notice of a scheduled USCIS biometric screening appointment. 

H-1B visa holders work at countless Fortune 500 companies, including but not limited to Intel, Google and Amazon. If you are considering this program and are seeking a job in the United States, you can apply for the 2021 fiscal year starting in April 2020.