H-1B1 Visa: Chile, Singapore
The US-Singapore and US-Chile Free Trade Agreements, which took effect on January 1, 2004, created a new class of temporary work visa for Singaporean and Chilean citizens: the H-1B1 Visa, which requires a US job offer in a “specialty occupation.”
Singapore Permanent Residents or Chile Permanent Residents who are citizens of other nations are not eligible for the H-1B1 Visa. However, non-Singaporean and Chilean spouses and children of qualified Singaporean and Chilean H-1B1 principal applicants are eligible for H-4 visas as dependent family members.
H-1B1 Visa: Basic Requirements
- Job offer from a US employer. H-1B1 Visa candidate cannot be self-employed, an independent contractor or freelance.
- The H-1B1 job must be offered at the prevailing wage (average wage for the geographical area within which the candidate will be working), or the actual wage being paid by the H-1B1 employer for the job offered.
- Position offered must be in a “specialty occupation,” i.e., an occupation which generally requires at least the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in a particular field related to the job offered. Some examples of specialty occupations are positions in the fields of engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, computer sciences, medicine and health care, education, biotechnology, and business specialties such as management and human resources.
- The H-1B1 candidate must have at least the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in a particular specialty that is related to the job offered.
- Period of employment in US must be temporary, and the H-1B1 candidate must demonstrate nonimmigrant intent. (This distinguishes the H-1B1 visa from the traditional H-1B visa, which allows for dual nonimmigrant and immigrant intent, i.e., the intent to stay temporarily, or the intent to stay in the US permanently). Singaporean and Chilean nationals are still eligible to apply for a traditional H-1B visa.
- Unlike a traditional H-1B visa, an H-1B1 employer does not have to submit an application to USCIS, but can go directly to a US consulate to apply for an H-1B1 visa without making application to USCIS. However, if a candidate in the US would like to change to, transfer or extend H-1B1 status while in the US, an application to USCIS is possible, although of course the candidate must obtain an H-1B1 visa from a US consulate abroad to re-enter the US. Fees for the H-1B1 at USCIS are very high, however (the regular H-1B fees apply unless the employer is an exempt educational or government research organization affiliated with an institution of higher education). The $500 fraud fee, however, is not required when filing an H-1B1 with USCIS.
- H-1B1 visas are multiple-entry and valid for a maximum of 18 months, but with maximum entry of one year at a time. Extensions and renewals are permissible, and there is no maximum H-1B1 period as long as the applicant can demonstrate that s/he does not have immigrant intent, i.e., the intent to stay permanently in the US.
- H-1B1 visas are capped at 1400 per fiscal year for Chileans and 5,400 per fiscal year for Singaporeans. Only principals count against this cap, and the cap is part of the overall general H-1B visa pool each fiscal year. After five renewals, subsequent renewals are counted against the cap.
- With regard to licensure, H-1B1 visa holders are not required to present proof of professionals licensure in order to obtain the H-1B1 status or visa. They will be responsible for obtaining such licensure only once status or visa is granted, in accordance with applicable state or US laws for their particular profession. This differs from the regular H-1B visa category, which requires proof of professional licensure for H-1B status to be granted.
- Certain professions may present “alternative credentials” rather than the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree. These include Disaster Relief Adjuster and Management Consultant. Each of these require a combination of specialized training and 3 years of experience in place of the standard degree requirement. Management Consultants may hold a degree other than that of the specialty area in which they will work on the H-1B1 visa. For Chileans, Agricultural Managers and Physical Therapists qualify with a combination of a Certificate plus 3 years of experience in the field of expertise.
- Dependents of H-1B1 holders in Singapore who are NOT Singaporean are strongly encouraged to apply for their visas at the same time as the principal applicant, regardless of whether they have firm plans to travel to the US. If the H-1B1 visa holder is not present for the application of their non-Singaporean spouse and/or children at the US Consulate in Singapore, the applicants may be asked to apply in their home country where their marriage and birth documents can be properly verified.
- No adjustment of status or change of status to other categories is allowed from the H-1B1.
Changes in H-1B1 Visa Employment Conditions
Certain changes in the employment conditions can affect an H-1B1 visa petition, the labor condition application, and the H-1B1 employer’s obligations. For example, corporate restructurings, lay-offs, terminations, relocations to job sites, or a new occupational classification, may require amended H-1B1 petitions in advance of such changes.