The coveted H-1B visa is actually capped to a total of 6 years. It is issued in a three-year increment so technically you can renew it for another three-year period. This is yet another frustrating problem with the H-1B visa in addition to getting one of the 85,000 visas per year. Over 175,000 applicants applied for only 85,000 H-1B visas this fiscal year. For a complete explanation of the H-1B Visa, click here. (link to http://cbrownlaw.com/legal/employers/professional-workers/)
Now once you get one – it is only good for 6 years – really?
Congress did create some work-arounds in the statute referred to as AC21 or the American Competitiveness Act of the 21st Century passed in 2000, recognizing the hindrance to enticing high-skilled workers with only a six-year visa. Persons who have filed the first stage in the permanent residence process (a labor certification form with US Department of Labor or an I-140 Petition with USCIS) can obtain extra years of H-1B time – in one-year intervals. This only works if the person has applied for permanent residence before the beginning of their 5th year in H-1B status. Otherwise, the person is ineligible.
Another option arises under AC21 once the I-140 Petition is approved – the H-1B person can apply for an H-1B renewal indefinitely in three-year increments until a final decision is made on the permanent residence process.
Some foreign persons have been renewing their H-1B status for 4-5 years past the six-year period, due to the visa backlog that prevents these persons from completing the permanent residence process. While AC21 is no panacea, it has helped H-1B visa holders who plan to become permanent residents from falling out of status while they wait.
The Law Office of Catherine Brown can assist you with obtaining or renewing an H-1B visa. In terms of the H-1B, we handle everything from assisting you with wage issues, obligations, obtaining and posting the Labor Condition Application, filing the H-1B with USCIS and providing advice on how to maintain your H-1B status. Please call 303-322-2117 to schedule a consultation.