Powers Immigration Law

Specialty Occupations (H-1B)

U.S. employers may sponsor foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge through the H-1B visa program. Additionally, H-1B visas are available to fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.


For a specialty occupation H-1B petition, the employee must have a bachelor's degree or the equivalent experience. Additionally, the employer must have obtained a labor condition application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). “Specialty occupation” means an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts, etc.

Maximum Period of Stay

H-1B employees are granted a maximum initial stay of three years.  Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional three years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of six years. The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC21) provide seventh-year and additional extensions when the employee is waiting for a current employment-based priority date. 

After exhausting the maximum period of stay, the foreign national may go abroad for a period of one year and then return with a new H-1B petition and be eligible for up to another six years of H-1B status.

H-1B Cap

There is a statutory limitation to the number of H-1B petitions that may be granted in any given year – known as the H-1B cap. The cap is limited to a total of 85,000 visas each fiscal year (20,000 of the 85,000 are reserved for individuals who have received master's degrees or higher from U.S colleges or universities). For fiscal year 2015, H-1B petitions were accepted beginning April 1, 2014, on April 7, 2014 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap.  USCIS received about 172,500 H-1B petitions.

In years such as fiscal year 2015 when the cap is surpassed within the first week, a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, is utilized by USCIS to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption.

Spouse and Children

The spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of an H-1B employee may apply for H-4 status. If granted, the family members may attend school in the United States but are not permitted to work.

The pages of this website provide general information about immigration processes and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions specific to your case, to schedule a consultation, please call (704) 556-1156 for the Charlotte office, (828) 394-1196 for the Hickory office, or click here.

Powers Immigration Law ("the Law Office") maintains this website to provide general information about the firm and the services it provides to its clients.  The information contained on this website is not intended to be legal advice and it should not be relied on as a substitute for seeking legal counsel.   The Law Office does not seek to enter into an attorney-client relationship with any reader of its on-line content.  An attorney-client relationship with the firm can only be formed based on personal consultation with an attorney, followed by a determination that the Law Office is willing and able to accept such representation.




Powers Immigration Law ♦ tanya.powers@tmpowerslaw.com

520 8th Street NE ♦ Hickory, NC 28601 ♦ (828) 394-1196

5200 Park Road, Suite 221 ♦ Charlotte, NC 28209  ♦ (704) 556-1156

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