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How H-1B visa extensions work

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Immigration Law

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations temporarily. These occupations typically require specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher.

For many people working in the United States on an H-1B visa, the prospect of extending their stay is a key aspect of their employment journey. H-1B visa extensions allow foreign workers to continue their employment with the same employer beyond the initial duration of their visa. However, navigating the process can be complex and requires careful attention to deadlines and requirements.

Eligibility for extension

To be eligible for an H-1B visa extension, the foreign worker must continue to meet the requirements of their original visa. This includes maintaining their specialized skillset and employment with the sponsoring employer. The employer also must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of the employee seeking the extension. This petition must undergo submission before the current visa expires to ensure continuity of employment.

Documentation and filing process

The employer must provide supporting documentation demonstrating the continued need for the foreign worker’s specialized skills. The documentation also must outline the terms of the worker’s employment, including salary and job duties. The documentation must also show that the employer is offering the prevailing wage for the occupation in the geographic area where the employee will work.

Processing time and approval

The processing time for H-1B visa extensions can vary depending on various factors. Some such factors include the extent of the USCIS workload and the case’s complexity. In some cases, premium processing may be available for an additional fee. This expedites the processing time to 15 calendar days. Upon approval of the extension petition, the foreign worker can continue his or her employment with the sponsoring employer for the duration specified in the approval notice.

By understanding the process of extending an H-1B visa, foreign workers and their employers can navigate the extension process successfully, ensuring continued employment and contribution to the U.S. workforce.