There are different US non-immigrant visas, one of the categories being the work visa USA. Within the work visas, the most popular ones are H-1 Visas. The H-1 visa is for nationals to apply to work in the US temporarily as professionals. Most H visas allow nationals from all over the world to apply for a chance to work in the US for a specified period of time. However, one visa category is directed at only two nationalities, and that is the H-1B1 visa.
The H-1B1 visa is of two types only:
- H-1B1 Visa Chile
- H-1B1 Visa Singapore
If you are a resident of these two countries and possess the passport of one or the other, then you qualify to apply for the H-1B1 visa.
What is H-1B1 Visa?
In 2004, the US government signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Chile and Singapore. Under this agreement, Chile and Singapore nationals are eligible to apply to work in the US with the H-1B1 visa. Chile and Singapore permanent residents who do not have a passport from one of the countries are not eligible to apply for the H-1B1 visa.
The agreement specified that during one year, 1,400 visas would be given to Chile nationals, and 5,400 would be given to Singapore nationals. In total, this makes 6,800 visas for H-1B1.
This visa is given to professionals from these two countries. Professionals are those who have completed higher education degrees, such as Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral Degrees. This includes fields like:
- Computer Science
- Physical Science
- Health care and medicine
- Biotechnology, etc.
In addition, others who might not have higher education degrees, but have extensive training and special skills also qualify for the H-1B1 visa, such as:
- For Chilean nationals only:
- Agricultural Managers
- Physical Therapists
- For both Singapore and Chile nationals:
- Disaster Relief Claims
- Management Consultants who have another degree besides their specialization, but can prove experience.
The H-1B1 visa is similar to the H-1B visa which is available to all nationalities, including Chile and Singapore. There are, however, a few differences:
- H-1B1 visas are not petition based, which means employers do not have to file I-129 forms with USCIS
- H-1B1 visa holders have to prove intent that they will return to their home countries
- H-1B1 visa holders do not necessarily have to possess licenses to practice a profession where it is applicable
- H-1B1 visa holders are not allowed to apply for a US Green Card
The H-1B1 visa requirements are quite similar to the H-1B visa requirements. They include requirements from both employers and employees (H-1B1 visa applicants from Chile and Singapore).
Visa Requirements for Employers
Employers have to follow these procedures, file documents, and pay different fees to sponsor applicants for H-1B1 visas.
- Offer a job position to a Chilean or Singaporean national. The job position has to require a professional who meets the educational and experience criteria.
- Obtain Labor Condition Application (LCA) Certification through the ETA-9035E Form from the Department of Labor. This form guarantees the US government and the employee that:
- The salary will be a full prevailing wage
- The employee will be notified of any changes made in the certification
- The work environment will conform to all US laws
- The government will be aware where the work is being completed
- The government will have company information, number of employees, state employee job descriptions, and income
This is the most important document that both employer and employee need to have approved before any other steps are taken. It is illegal for the employee to go to the US and start working without an approved LCA.
- Pay the applicable fees. Except the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee, all other H-1B1 visa fees are the same as the H-1B visa. However, since Premium Processing is not available for the H-1B1 visa, the fee is also not available.
- The employer has to hand in documents that prove to the Department of Labor that the employee is a national of Singapore or Chile (hand in copy of passport), their tax information, and a report of the wages that are paid to the state employees.
After the employer gets the LCA certification from the DOL and it is approved, the employee may start the application procedure.
Visa Requirements for Employees
The employee or applicant of the H-1B1 visa also has to fulfill some criteria and hand in documents for the visa application process.
- The applicant has to prove professional occupation through diplomas, certifications, and work experience letters
- The applicant cannot work as an independent contractor or freelancer
- The applicant has to prove that they intend to return to their country (Singapore or Chile) by presenting certificates such as property holdings or others. For more information on what documents constitute proof that you do not intend to stay in the US permanently, contact your local US Embassy.
- The applicant has to demonstrate that they have a job in the US by submitting job offer letters with a job description and benefits
H-1B1 Visa Fees
The visa fees that applicants have to pay for the H-1B1 visa include the following:
- Visa Application Fee – for the amount of $190 as with all H visa categories
- Visa Issuance Fee – or reciprocity fee, which is determined based on your location. You can whether you have to pay it, and the amount in the Department of State.
For each fee that you pay, you must keep the receipt which proves you have completed your payment. You will need these receipts when you submit your application to the US Embassy online or at the interview.
After gathering the certification and documents from the employer, and proving your eligibility for the H-1B1 visa, you can start the application procedure.
You must apply at the US Embassy in your country. This means that you have to apply from the consulates in Singapore or in Chile. The reason for this rule is that the Free Trade Agreement states that H-1B1 visas are only for these two countries and it is much more difficult to apply from other places.
Complete the DS-160 Form
The DS-160 form can be found online and needs to be filled with full and accurate information. It is one of the most important parts of the application together with your interview.
Schedule your interview
Try to schedule your interview as early as possible, since appointments take time to be scheduled. Also, if you complete your interview early, you will also get a response in less time and will know whether you have been granted the H-1B1 visa.
Submit the required documents
- Your valid passport
- Your job offer and description
- The LCA certification from DOL
- A recent US visa photograph taken within the last six months
- Your DS-160 Form confirmation page
You have the option of sending the documents via courier or in person. If you submit them in person, you will have to bring the originals, but if you send them via courier, you can attach copies.
Attend the interview
During the interview you will be asked about all the information and documents you have submitted, and the interviewers will try to determine whether you intend to stay permanently in the US or not.
H-1B1 Visa Processing Time
Since the H-1B1 visa is not available for premium processing, it takes more time than the H-1B. Processing times vary from country to country, but in general it takes 4 to 6 months for the H-1B1 visa to be processed.
The time also depends on seasonal fluctuations, so for more accurate information, you should contact the US Embassy where you applied.
In addition, if you want to vary the status of your visa, you can also visit the US Department of State. On this page, you should choose the visa type (Immigrant or Nonimmigrant), which for the H-1B1 visa, it is Nonimmigrant. Then you should enter your location and your application ID, or case number. The website will show you whether your visa is pending or still processing.
The H-1B1 visa is given for 12 to 18 months, with the potential to extend it on a one year basis, indefinitely. So every time you see your visa is about to expire, you can apply for an extension 4 to 6 months before it expires. The H-1B1 visa can be extended indefinitely as long as you prove you are working in the US and that at some point you intend to return to Singapore or Chile.
Your employer will have to submit the LCA certification and you will have to submit your pay stubs to demonstrate you are working. There are two ways to extend or renew your H-1B1 visa:
- Your employer should apply 4 to 6 months before expiration
- You can seek a new H-1B1 visa at an embassy outside the US
The H-1B1 visa transfer can mean two things:
- You want to change employers while you are on an H-1B1 visa
- You want to transfer to another type of visa
If you want to switch employers, your new employer should go through the same procedures of obtaining LCA certification from the Department of Labor and get a form I-797A. Your transfer must be approved before you start working. Another way that you can do this is by going to a US Embassy outside of the US and get another H-1B1 visa stamp with your new employer’s name and LCA number on it.
If you want to transfer to another visa, you have to go through the procedures as if you were getting the visa for the first time. For example, if you want to get an H-1B visa, you will have to get LCA certification and USCIS petition approval from your employer and then follow the other instructions.
During the time you are on an H-1B1 visa, you may apply for other types of visas, except the American Green Card. If you attempt to apply for the Green Card while on an H-1B1 visa, your status might be at risk and you could be deported.
However, if you intend to get the Green Card, you can apply to get a different type of visa, such as the H-1B, and then apply for the Green Card.
H-1B1 Dependents Visa
As a rule, your spouse and children under 21 years old are allowed to accompany you to the US while you are working. They can get H-4 visas, which allow them entry into the US, and they are allowed to enroll in academic studies. However, they are not allowed to engage in employment while in the US.
For your spouse to get approval, you will need to submit your marriage certificate. If your spouse is of a different nationality than Singaporean or Chilean, it is best for you to apply together for the visas. The reason for this is that if your spouse applies for the H-4 visa after you, they might be required to go to their home country and apply from the US Embassy there.
Health Insurance for H1B1 visa holders
The type of health insurance you are eligible as an H1B1 for depends on how long you will be staying in the United States. As an H1B1 visa holder you can have:
- Short-term insurance
- Long-term (domestic) insurance