Berkeley Lab

H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa

An H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the U.S. Department of State. It is a visa designated for individuals coming temporarily to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement.” H-1B visa holders are eligible for a total maximum stay of six years in the United States. The six-year limit includes time spent on the H-1B visa with another employer. The initial H-1B petition may cover a period up to three years. Extension petitions may be made for a period of three years or less, up to the six-year maximum. Under certain special circumstances, an H-1B visa status may be extended beyond the maximum six-year limit.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes the final decision on whether an individual qualifies for the H-1B visa classification. The H-1B visa is employer specific, which means that a USCIS-approved petition submitted by Berkeley Lab authorizes the scholar to work only in the position specified in the petition. A scholar who has an H-1B visa approval from another employer is not automatically eligible to work at Berkeley Lab. An H-1B worker may work for more than one employer at the same time, but each employer must file a separate H-1B visa petition.

If you have been offered employment at Berkeley Lab, a Visa and Immigration Services Advisor will contact you with the necessary information to help facilitate the H-1B visa issuance process. You will be asked to complete an H-1B Intake Form which will help your advisor seek approval of your status from the USCIS, and subsequent Form I-797, which is required prior to applying for the H-1B visa stamp abroad. If you are already located in the United States, your Visa and Immigration Services Advisor will help you coordinate and process the H-1B change of employer.

If you are a current Berkeley Lab employee holding an H-1B visa, or have questions about the H-1B visa in general, please contact a Visa and Immigration Services Advisor.