Visa Solutions for Highly Skilled Workers

For highly skilled workers or professionals to work or immigrate to the United States, application for H1B visa, H1B1 visa, TN visa or Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) may be considered an option. H1B visa, H1B1 visa and TN visa are non-immigrant visas, while PERM is the first stage for obtaining a PERM-based immigrant visa or green card. VISA2US provides streamlined online application solutions for H1B visa, H1B1 visa, TN visa and PERM.

Introduction

The H1B visa is a type of non-immigrant visa that allows the visa holders from all over the world to work in a statutorily defined “specialty occupation” in the United States for a fixed period of time on a temporary basis. The examples of specialty occupations are accountants, architects, engineers, doctors, and IT professionals. In order to apply, the nonimmigrant applicant's employer must submit an H1B visa petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

H1B1 visa is a variant of H1B visa, specifically for Chileans and Singaporeans working in a specialty occupation. H1B1 visa was established by the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. The definition of the specialty occupation in H1B1 visa is somewhat broader than that for H1B visa. Particularly, although the normal minimum requirement for an H-1B visa is a specialized bachelor's degree, the trade agreements with Chile and Singapore permit alternate credentials in certain professions, such as agricultural manager, physical therapist or management consultant.

TN visa was established by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Modeled after the H1B visa, the TN visa may only be used for a United States-based company and a Canadian or Mexican citizens who meets the education requirements and works at a professional level within one of the 63 approved occupations. Permanent residents of Canada and Mexico are not eligible to apply for TN visas. The scope of jobs under TN visa is narrower than those under H1B visa. Each profession under TN visa requires at least a bachelor's degree. If you are a citizen of Canada, you do not need to apply for a TN visa at a US embassy or consulate. Instead, you can apply directly at the US border to be admitted in TN status.

PERM is the first step among three to seek employment-based and PERM-based Green Card; PERM is a process to obtain Labor Certificate. There are mainly two requirements to fulfill: U.S. Labor Market Test and Prevailing Wage Determination. U.S. Labor Market Test means the employer must show that there are no qualified U.S. workers for this position through bona fide recruitment. Such recruitment includes advertising in newspaper or other methods. Prevailing Wage Determination means the employer must pay at least the prevailing wage. VISA2US provides streamlined online application solutions for PERM-based Green Card and a total solutions for HR professionals to manage tedious PERM advertising placements.

Differences among H1B, H1B1 and TN

Criterion \ Visa Types H1B H1B1 TN
Eligible Nationalities All non-US Only Singapore and Chile Citizens of Canada or Mexico
Relation with caps Counted against the general annual cap of 65,000 (minus visas reserved for Chile and Singapore) for the fiscal year, with some exceptions (20,000 applications for master's degrees per fiscal year, and cap exemption for people who have been counted toward the cap already and those working for a nonprofit research institution). Separate cap of 1,400 for Chile and 5,400 for Singapore. Unused H-1B1s for the previous year are added to a given fiscal year's cap. No cap.
Role of Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) All H-1B classifications require the employer to file this form Only applications for change of status, extension of status, or change of employer (applicable to people already present in the United States) need this Form. Form I-129 is required when applying for renewal of TN visa or a change of status to TN visa. Also, a prospective employer may file Form I-129 on behalf of the employee for application of TN visa.
Duration 3 years, can be extended by another 3 years. After the completion of 6 years, cannot renew the H-1B status and must leave the US for at least a year before starting the next H-1B (unless an application for a permanent immigration status is pending). Indefinitely renewable 1-year increments Up to 3 years, can be renewed for another 3 years period. No limit to the number of renewal.
Definition of specialty occupation Narrow list of specialty occupations, all of which require a bachelor's degree or equivalent work experience. In addition to all the specialty occupations eligible for H-1B, allows agricultural managers and physical therapists (Chile only) and management consultants and disaster relief claim adjusters (Both Chile and Singapore). Definition of business activities at a professional level, i.e. NAFTA Professionals.
Requires at least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials demonstrating status as a professional. Appendix 1603.D.1 of the NAFTA sets forth a list of approved professions and minimum qualifications, education and/or experience for each profession.
Non-immigrant intent The H-1B is a dual intent status, i.e., applicants may have intent to immigrate to the United States. H-1B1 visa applicants must clearly demonstrate non-immigrant intent, and may not apply for a Green Card while on the H-1B1. Unlike H-1B visa, TN visa is not a dual intent visa. TN visa applicants must be able to show the intent to return to the home country once TN visa expires.
Portability rule (AC21)
(Job change)
Applicants on H-1B can start a job with a new employer as long as they have submitted a Form I-129, even before the form is approved. Applicants can start work with an employer only after their H-1B1 classification is approved, even if they are switching jobs. Applicants enjoy two grace periods: 1. a 10-day grace period after the end of TN validity period; 2. a 60-day grace period upon a cessation of employment. Applicants may try to find a new job, change their status or prepare to depart the U.S. during the grace period. Employment is not authorized during the grace periods. Applicants can begin to work until newly filed petition is approved.
Premium Processing The H-1B is eligible for Premium Processing. Either the employer or the employee can pay the required $1,410 to expedite the application. USCIS guarantees a response within 15 calendar days, or the $1,410 will be refunded (and the case will continue to receive premium treatment.) Although the H-1B1 transfer of status processed in the same pool as other H1B I-129 change-of-status or extension of stay applications, it is ineligible for Premium Processing. The TN is eligible for Premium Processing. The fee is $1,410, in addition to all other filing fees. USCIS guarantees a response within 15 calendar days, or the $1,410 will be refunded. However, the case will continue to receive premium treatment.
Cap-Gap Extension The H-1B is eligible for Cap Gap Extension, which allows students who are on OPT or in their 60-day grace period as of April 1st - and have a pending/approved October 1st H-1B petition - to continue working (if OPT unexpired before April 1st) or stay in the US (if OPT expired before April 1st but still within 60 day grace period) during the "gap." The H-1B1 is not eligible for the Cap Gap Extension. If a student's OPT ends, he/she must stop work immediately, and only resume employment when the H-1B1 petition has been approved. Not applicable.
Start Date The H-1B application opens every April 1st, 6 months before the official start date on October 1st. Unless under Cap-Gap, applicants who are accepted in the lottery may not start working until October 1st, and may not travel to the U.S. on H status until 10 days before their start date (if abroad). H-1B1 applicants can travel to the U.S. and start working as soon as their petitions (I-129 or consular processing) are approved. TN applicants can travel to the U.S. 10 days prior to the actual start date of the TN visa validity period. However, employment is not authorized during the 10-day period.
Fees The employer assumes most of the following fees for the H-1B:
  • $460 I-129 Base Filing Fee
  • $1,500 American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act Fee (for non-exempt employers with 26 or more full-time equivalent employees)/$750 (for non-exempt employers with 1-25 employees)
  • $500 fraud prevention and detection fee
  • $4,000 Pub. L. 114-113 fee (for employers with >=50 employees in the US and more than 50% of those are in H-1B or L1 status)
  • $1,410 Premium Processing Fee (can be paid by either employer or employee)
For the H-1B1:
  • If applying for H-1B1 change of status (form I-129 via USCIS), the fees are the same as the H-1B's, except an exempt $500 fraud prevention and detection fee. Also, Premium Processing is unavailable
  • If applying through Consular Processing, the employee only pays $190 as part of the DS-160 Non-Immigrant Visa application processing fee
For TN visas application:
  • When a prospective employer files Form I-129 on behalf of the employee for application of TN visas, the fee is $460.
  • Premium Processing Fee is $1,410, if applicable.
For TN visas renewal:
  • Canadian applicant:
    • If the applicant is physically present in the U.S., a renewal application should be filed via Form I-129. The fee is $460.
    • If the applicant is not physically in the U.S., a renewal application can be applied at the border. The fee is $56.
  • Mexican applicant:
    • Applicant must renew the TN visa while physically present in the U.S. through Form I-129. The fee is $460.