U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting H-1B nonimmigrant visa applications for the 2012 fiscal year on April 1, 2011. As of July 1, 2011, the USCIS has received 18,400 petitions against the regular 65,000 available limit and 11,900 petitions against the 20,000 master's degree exemptions.
The H-1B Visa Program
H-1B visas allow employers in the U.S. to temporarily employ foreign workers for up to six years in fields that require "specialty occupations." Specialty occupations are jobs that "require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields." Some examples of such occupations include those in law, medicine, accounting, science, engineering and computer programming. The jobs generally require the employee to have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree and, for some jobs, appropriate licensure.
H-1B visas allow the worker and his or her spouse and children under 21 years old to live in the U.S. during the duration of the visa. An H-1B visa is a "dual-intent" visa, which means, unlike with other nonimmigrant visas, the government will not deny the H-1B visa if the employee intends to become a permanent resident.