Similar to its H-1B counterpart, the H-1B1 is a non-immigrant visa that is designed to allow U.S. employers to recruit and employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations to work in the United States for a specified period of time. The H-1B1 subcategory was established as a result of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and is designated for workers in a “specialty occupation” from Chile and Singapore. Currently, the definition of “specialty occupation” is identical to the regulatory definition for H-1Bs, meaning that an occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge;and attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as minimum entry into the occupation. [8 C.F.R. 214.2]
While the H-1B1 visa tends to follow the same guidelines as does a general H-1B, there are some special circumstances that relate to the H-1B1. One of the main differences between the H-1B and H-1B1, is that although the normal minimum requirement for an H-1B is a specialized bachelor’s degree, the trade agreements with Chile and Singapore permit alternate credentials in certain professions: agricultural managers and physical therapists (for Chilean workers) and management consultants and disaster relief claims adjusters (for Chilean or Singaporean workers).
Furthermore, there are specific criteria and requirements that regulate whether an applicant will be considered eligible for an H-1B1 Visa:
Once the general application requirements are met, there are other criteria that need to be taken into consideration as well:
One Year Admission
Admission on an H-1B1 visa is generally valid for one year. Extensions can be granted in one-year increments and unlike the regular H-1B visa, there is no six-year limitation for those admitted on an H-1B1 and the number of renewals is indefinite. It should be noted, however, that every third extension will require a new 2-year LCA because, after the second extension, the next extension may only be granted if the Secretary of Labor certifies that the intending employer has filed a new 2-year LCA. [9 FAM 41.53 N27.5]
Change of Status to H-1B1
A national of either Chile or Singapore, who is currently in the United States as a non-immigrant in a category that is eligible for a change of status, may apply for a change of status to H-1B1 non-immigrant status. In these instances, the alien must use Form I-129, accompanied by:
Furthermore, H-1B1 status holders may also be eligible to apply for a change of status to another non-immigrant status. According to INA 248, in order to be eligible, the alien must be in lawful status, absent any extraordinary circumstance and should file form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS office governing the alien’s particular area.
Issues of Intent
It should be noted that unlike the H-1B, the H-1B1 status is not protected under the Dual Intent Doctrine. Instead the agreements with Chile and Singapore provide for the temporary entry of professionals into the United States. Therefore, in order to be issued an H-1B1 visa/status, the alien would bear the burden of having to prove that he/she has non-immigrant intent: that he/she (1) has a residence abroad, (2) has no immediate intention of abandoning that residence, and (3) intends to depart the U.S. upon the termination of the visa. It should be noted that the circumstances surrounding an application to should indicate that the alien’s temporary work will eventually end and the alien will depart upon its completion. However, an intent to immigrate in the future, which is in no way connected to the proposed immediate trip, is not in itself grounds to deny the alien an H-1B1. [9 FAM 41.53 N27.5]
The Spouse and/or children of H-1B1 holders
The H-4 visa/status is for those H-1B1 holders who have a spouse and/or children that they would like to accompany them to the United States. H-4 visas are issued to the H-1 holder's spouse and children under twenty-one years of age. Holders of H-4 visas are considered to be dependents of H-1B visa holders. As H-4 status holders, spouses and children (who are minors under twenty-one years of age) may be entitled to enter and remain in the United States for the duration of the H-1 holder's authorized stay. The duration of their stay is limited to and equal to that of the H-1B visa holder. H-4 holders are permitted to attend school on either a part-time or full-time basis. H-4 holders are not permitted to work, however, unless otherwise authorized by the USCIS. For more information about H-4 visas, please click here.
As explained above, the H-1B1 visa/status had several similarities with the general H-1B status, but there are several key differences that should be taken into account; the most notable being that its creation was spurred by the Free Trade Agreements with Chile and Singapore. As with any application for a visa, it is important to always follow the instructions and guidelines so that the application process can unfold as smoothly as possible.
For more information on H-1B Visa, please refer on one of the following topics below:
H-1B Visa General Issues
H-1B Visa Related Articles