Admission to the United States / Duration of Stay / Extension of Status

The government makes available annually 65,000 H-1B nonimmigrant visas in its fiscal year. The Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) set aside 6,800 H-1B nonimmigrant visas (1,400 to Chilean citizens and 5,400 to Singaporean citizens) which count against the overall 65,000 cap annually. The H-1B Reform Act of 2004 created an additional 20,000 H-1B nonimmigrant visas for foreign nationals who have earned a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

The maximum period of authorized stay in the United States in H-1B nonimmigrant status is six (6) years, issued in maximum increments of three (3) years at a time. A foreign national who has been present in the United States for six (6) years as an H-1B nonimmigrant is prohibited from obtaining or extending his H-1B nonimmigrant status until he has resided outside of the United States for one (1) year. There are two (2) notable exceptions to this six (6) year limitation period. First, if a Labor Certification Application has been pending with the USDOL for more than one (1) year, the H-1B nonimmigrant visa / status can be extended after the sixth (6th) year in one (1) year increments until the Labor Certification is approved or withdrawn. Second, H-1B nonimmigrant status can also be extended beyond the six (6) year maximum in three (3) year increments for a foreign national whose I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, has been approved by USCIS but who is unable to obtain permanent residence because of immigrant visa (i.e., Green Card) number unavailability.

This guide was developed by Meyers & Meyers, LLP as a resource to help you understand some aspects of Immigration Law, which is very complex. It is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. We recommend you contact one of our experienced Immigration Attorneys to devise an individualized plan to help you and/or your company achieve your goals. Please contact Meyers & Meyers, LLP at [email protected] for assistance.

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