What is the difference between a RIR Labor Certification and an H-1B?

A Labor Certification (whether through the standard Labor Certification process or through the faster RIR process) is a pre-requisite for an immigration petition for most employment-based categories. For employment-based petitions, it is, in many cases, the first step to obtaining the right to live and work permanently within the U.S. An H-1B petition is a non-immigrant visa for alien workers and provides the right to live and work within the U.S. for a limited amount of time.

Since the RIR approval process may take up to one year, many alien workers maintain H-1B non-immigrant status during the RIR and subsequent immigration petition process. This is possible since an H-1B visa allows for dual intent, i.e. an H-1B holder may also pursue permanent residency and it will not affect his/her H-1B status. Once the alien receives permanent residency through the RIR and employment-based immigration petition, however, the alien is required to work for the U.S. employer who filed the RIR and immigration petition on his/her behalf.

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