H-1B2 Subcategory: Department of Defense

The H-1B2 visa is intended for aliens who perform services of an exceptional nature relating to a cooperative research and development project administered by the United States Department of Defense (DoD). To be awarded an H-1B2 visa, aliens must undergo a selective application process. In fact, only 100 H-1B2 visa holders are permitted in the U.S. at any given time.

Job Types

To qualify under this category, the prospective job position must satisfy two conditions:

  1. It is part of a cooperative research and development project or coproduction project that is provided for under a government-to-government agreement administered by DoD; and

  2. It requires a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent).


As is the case for general H-1Bs, to be eligible for H-1B2 status, a foreign worker has to meet at least one of the following four criteria:

  1. Possess a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university, which is required by the specific specialty occupation;

  2. Possess a foreign degree that is the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher in the specialty occupation;

  3. Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes one to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment; or

  4. Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.

(For up-to-date information about the jobs and qualifications eligible under the H-1B2 classification, click here.)

Application Process

The application process for the H-1B2 visa is similar to that of its parent, the H-1B visa. After a job is offered to and accepted by an alien worker, petitioning can begin. Applications may be submitted up to a maximum of six months prior to the job’s start date.

First, a U.S. employer files a Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), along with:

  1. A description of the proposed employment and evidence that the services and project meet the job requirements, as described above; and

  2. A statement listing the names of all aliens who are not permanent residents who have been employed on the project within the past year, including their dates of employment.

Notably, the employer isn’t required to submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA). The employer is, however, required to include in its petition a letter from the DoD project manager for the specific project, which verifies that the alien employee will be employed on a cooperative research and development project, or on a DoD-administered reciprocal government-to-government project. Specific details about the project aren’t needed.

Duration of Status

The initial period of authorized work for a foreign worker in H-1B2 status is 10 years. However, extensions may be granted in two-year increments. Requests for extension of status should be accompanied by a letter from the DoD project manager detailing the beneficiary’s duties.

For more information about H-1B status extensions in general, click here.

Caution: The Cap

The H-1B2 visa is also subject to the H-1B cap, a limitation set by Congress regulating the number of workers admitted annually on an H-1B visa or authorized to change status if already in the United States. A total of 65,000 H-1B visas are issued each year to foreign workers, with an additional 20,000 reserved for workers with a master’s degree or higher.

Our experienced immigration attorneys are here to guide professionals through the complicated H-1B application process, and minimize any and all confusion or challenges. We understand how important an H-1B visa is to you, whether as the employer or the prospective employee. Our seasoned staff and years-long track record of success make Zhang & Associates the natural choice to facilitate your H-1B petitions.

For more detailed information on the H-1B category, including minimum requirements and USCIS policies, refer to the following links:

General H-1B Topics

H-1B Articles


Updated 04/26/2017