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H-1B1 Visa: Free Trade Agreement Professional

A sub-category of the H-1B category is the H-1B1 program, which provides for the temporary employment of nonimmigrant aliens in specialty occupations from Chile and Singapore. Current laws limit the annual number of qualifying foreign workers who may be issued an H-1B1 visa to 6,800 with 1,400 from Chile and 5,400 from Singapore. 

Basic Requirements

Under the H-1B1 program, the period of employment is one year, and extensions may be obtained twice but only in one-year increments. Extensions can be obtained only with the filing of a new LCA.

To be eligible for the H-1B1 visa, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. Citizen of Chile or Singapore: The applicant must be a citizen of Chile or Singapore and must provide evidence of their citizenship.
  2. Specialized knowledge or expertise: The applicant must have specialized knowledge or expertise in a particular field, such as engineering, architecture, or mathematics. This requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization.
  3. Job offer: The applicant must have a job offer from a U.S. employer, and the job must require their specialized knowledge or expertise.
  4. Labor Condition Application (LCA): The U.S. employer must file a Labor Certification Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL), which outlines the terms and conditions of the applicant’s employment.

Employer Compliance

All employers who employ an H-1B1 nonimmigrant must comply with the following, among other requirements: 

  • Maintain an LCA (Form ETA 9035 and/or ETA 9035E) with true and accurate information for each permanent work site;
  • Pay the H-1B1 worker the “required wage rate” applicable to each regular work site;
  • Offer the H-1B1 worker the same working conditions and fringe benefits as are offered to similarly employed U.S. workers;
  • Notify workers or their bargaining representative of the intent to employ an H-1B1 worker at any location where other workers are in the same occupational classification for which an H-1B1 worker is sought or placed;
  • Provide a copy of the applicable LCA to each H-1B1 worker;
  • Maintain and make available for public examination the LCA and other required documents;
  • Must not allow the H-1B1 worker to pay the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) petition any fees associated with this process except for the premium processing fee if filing via USCIS; and
  • Must notify USCIS of any changes in the H-1B1 nonimmigrant’s work status (e.g., wherever the DOL requires a new LCA, or when the work is terminated for whatever reason).

Application Process for Individuals

If an applicant is planning to attend their interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy, he or she should note the following process:

  • Step 1: Receive job offer. The applicant must find a job in the U.S. that requires their specialized knowledge or expertise.
  • Step 2: Employer files the LCA. Have the U.S. employer file an LCA with the DOL. The LCA process takes approximately 7-10 days, and the employer (typically the HR department) has to endorse the documents after it is prepared. Once the documents are complete, the employer will usually send the entire set of documents to the applicant who will need to have these documents with them for their visa interview appointment.
  • Step 3: Complete and file form DS-160. The applicant must complete and file the DS-160 online form, which is the nonimmigrant visa application. Once completed and filed, a confirmation page will show. The applicant will need to print the out the confirmation page and bring to their visa interview appointment.
  • Step 4: Schedule interview and pay. The applicant must schedule and attend a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. The applicant will have to pay a fee, if applicable. 
  • Step 5: Prepare documents and attend interview. The applicant must bring all required documentation to their interview, which is why it is important to prepare the supporting documents, such as your passport, educational certificates, and proof of employment before their appointment. The applicant must attend their interview the day their appointment was scheduled. 
  • Step 6: Pay delivery fee and receive passport. If approved for H-1B1 status, the applicant will receive the visa in their passport. A couple of days after the interview, the applicant will have to pay a delivery fee for their passport to be shipped back to them. USCIS will then ship the stamped passport to the applicant. Once received, the applicant will be able to enter the U.S.

If you have questions on the H-1B1 visa, be sure to contact our firm to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!