I May be Eligible For an H-1B Visa, But Can I Apply for One?

If you have the skills and experience an employer needs, you could apply for more than one type of temporary work visa. Both the H-1B and the O-1 visas can allow you to work in the United States, but their approval criteria differ and must be met.

First, you find a U.S. employer as a sponsor, and if you have a “specialty occupation” and meet its other requirements, you may be able to obtain an H-1B visa. To get the O-1 Visa, you must exhibit an “extraordinary talent” that the employer needs. However, both types of visas are excellent for foreign-born skilled professionals who want to work in the U.S. 

Both these visas have different eligibility requirements, but some highly skilled professionals may qualify for either one.

For example, the H-1B visa typically requires a bachelor’s degree in the specialty job the employer is hiring you for. Additionally, any additional requirements for the H-1B Visa are placed on the employer.

Although the O-1 visa does not require degrees, these select visas are made for employees at the “top” of their fields. Also, the number of extensions for the O-1 visa is not limited, as it’s granted for one year at a time.

Also, O-1 visas are granted for the duration of the grant, project, tour, job, etc., and usually for no longer than three years.

You should note that one of the most important criteria for receiving an H-1B work visa is to have a pre-existing employer-employee relationship with your sponsor. You must have a current job offer from your U.S. employer to demonstrate a valid employer-employee relationship between you and your sponsor.

As stated, both are excellent types of work visas, but it can be legally complex to decide which to apply for. That is the main reason if you want to be successful in obtaining either, the help of a skilled, experienced professional immigration lawyer is mandatory.

Why Should I Apply For an O-1 Visa and How?

To apply and qualify for the O-1 visa program, remember the keyword “exceptional;” this will help you understand the basic qualifications for this visa type.
Also, if you do apply, there are two types of categories for the O-1 visa they are;

The O-1A visa – This is for foreign nationals with exceptional ability in the sciences, business, athletics, or education.

The O-1B visa is also for foreign nationals, but they must have exceptional talent in entertainment, motion pictures, or television.

If you apply for an O-1 visa, you may also be able to bring key staff with you to work in the U.S. using the O-2 Visa.

The O-1 visa is usually used for up to three years, but it may be less if the “event” they’re performing in the U.S. is over a specific time. If more time in the U.S. is needed, an extension can be granted in one-year increments.

The qualifications needed for both the O-1A and the O-1B Visa are detailed, and you must have the credentials to show that you met them, or you will be denied. This can be a long and highly detailed legal process. Therefore, you must consult with a skilled and well-versed immigration lawyer who is highly familiar with this type of visa.

So, Simply, How Do the H-1B and O-1 Visa’s Differ?

The main differences between the H-1B and O-1 visas fall into basically five factors these are;

  • The duration of their application H-1B applications begin in April, but if approved, you still may have to wait until October for it to take effect. The O-1 visa can be applied for any time of the year and is usually effective when approved.
  • The duration of their validity – The O-1 Visa is limited by how long you need to work on the sponsor’s project or job.

When granted, an H-1B visa has a maximum validity of three years but can be extended to six if needed.

  • The number of applicants Recently, the U.S. issued almost 180,000 H-1B visas, while only about 17,000 O-1 visas were approved during the same period.
  • Their relationship with a Green Card—Being approved for an H-1B or an O-1 visa never guarantees you a green card upon application. However, O-1 visa holders usually have a better chance of becoming Green card holders in most cases.
  • The difficulty of satisfying their requirements – Often, the minimum requirement for an H-1B visa is a college degree. This sometimes gives the H-1 B visa the edge over the O-1 visa. For example, recent college graduates can readily apply for an H-1B visa, while only professionals with years of experience can usually qualify for an O-1 program.

Although the H-1B Visa is Capped, Can I Get an Exemption?

Your experienced and knowledgeable immigration lawyer will explain that the yearly cap on H-1B visas is usually a major consideration when trying to get one.

You should know that some jobs that qualify for an H-1B visa are subject to the cap. So, if you hold such a job, you may apply and obtain an H-1B visa even if the yearly cap is surpassed. For example, if you are a prospective H-1B employee hired for a job in higher education, have an affiliated nonprofit, or are engaged in research in governmental research agencies, you may be exempt from the cap.

Although both visas are excellent for skilled or highly proficient workers to get to work in the U.S., the details of applying and qualifying for either can be exhausting, time-consuming, and stressful. Therefore, one of the key takeaways you should remember is never to attempt to go through this arduous process without the help of a highly efficient and thoroughly knowledgeable immigration lawyer by your side.

I Have Questions on H-1B and O-1 Visas; How Should I Proceed?

Of course, every immigration case differs, as do their details and circumstances. However, the H-1B and O-1 visas have unique advantages for skilled workers living and working in the U.S. However, these advantages may not apply to every possible applicant.

Therefore, the only rational and prudent approach to applying for either visa is to first obtain the professional and in-depth legal guidance of a knowledgeable Seattle immigration lawyer.

The immigration law team at Stelmakh & Associates, LLC has a long and successful history of helping foreign skilled workers obtain visas that meet their particular circumstances, whether an H-1B or an O-1 visa. Call them today at 206-558-6288 and book a consultation on your unique case. Their empathetic and well-versed immigration lawyers will know precisely what visa is proper for you and what your circumstances are.

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