Question: I entered the United States a couple of months ago as a visitor and would now like to work in the United States. I have a degree in Business with an emphasis in accounting and have a couple of firms interested in hiring me. Do I qualify for a work permit, and if so, what must I do?
Answer: First, based upon your degree, you qualify for what is known as a Specialty Occupation Work Visa. This is also known as the H-1B. It is meant for positions which require specialized knowledge and where a college degree is the norm for the industry. Therefore, your position would qualify. You would need to be hired as an accountant.
Question: How do you know that an accountant is a specialty occupation?
Answer: There are many sources that can be viewed from the Department of Labor. These sources are either on the internet, or in printed publication. It basically states what the normal duties for the particular position are and what are the normal educational requirements needed to successfully perform the job.
Question: What type of company must sponsor me?
Answer: As an accountant, any company can sponsor you. Every company can use an accountant. If you had said that you had a degree in biology, your sponsoring companies would have to be much narrower. They would specifically have to deal with biology. The H-1B can be full-time or part-time.
Question: Do I have to leave the U.S. to get the visa?
Answer: Yes, you would have to leave the U.S. to get the visa. However, should you want to stay in the U.S., you can get a change of status from B2 (Visitor), to H-1B (Specialty Occupation Work Visa) Then, you would not have to leave the United States in order to start working for the company. However, if you did leave the United States, you would have to get the Visa in order to return to the United States. It is always possible to get the Visa approved at INS, but to get it denied at the Consulate. You would want to take this into consideration if you decided to leave after successfully getting your status changed to H-1B.
Question: How long does it take to get the answer from INS on whether they will approve the H-1B Petition?
Answer: Now it is taking from 6 to 9 months depending where you live. Should you want it much faster than that, you can put it through INS via Premium Processing. This is exactly what it implies. It goes to the top of the stack and is processed by INS within 15 days of receipt. All you need to do is pay INS $1,000.00 for them to process it as a Premium Process case. If they do not get the answer back to you within 15 days, then you get your $1,000.00 back.
Thus, the H-1B is a very good visa for someone with a college education to have. If you can get a sponsor related to your college degree, then you can see if the H-1B can be done. Usually, it is issued initially for 3 years and can be extended for another 3 years. In cases whereby the person has applied for Labor Certification and has waited for a considerable period of time, they can now apply for an even further extension of the H-1B. It is one of the nicest and most popular work visas available.