H-1B1 Free Trade Agreement Visas Still Available...

...Excellent Alternative to Citizens of Chile and Singapore Subject to the H-1B Cap Quagmire.

With the instantaneous exhaustion of the H-1B visa numbers and thousands of hopeful H-1B cap petitions bogged down in lottery limbo, it’s a good time for eligible workers to consider the H-1B1 visa. Although the cap has been hit for the regular H-1Bs, visa numbers are still available for the H-1B1. Individuals subject to the H-1B lottery, or F-1 students in OPT status needing work authorization after expiration of their OPT should look further into the H-1B1 visa.

The H-1B1 visa is open only to citizens of Chile and Singapore. Qualifications for the H-1B1 are identical to those for the regular H-1B visa, that is, the applicant must possess a U.S. bachelor’s degree or the equivalent and be coming to fill a position that normally requires a bachelor’s degree.

When applying for the H-1B1 outside the U.S., the application is made directly to the consulate. There is no need to file an I-129 with the USCIS Service Center. However, an LCA must still be filed with DOL and submitted with the H-1B1 visa application. Canadian residents may apply for the H-1B1 visa with a U.S. consulate in Canada. Applicants for an H-1B1 visa already in the U.S., for example working under F-1/OPT status, may file for a Change of Status (“COS”) to H-1B1 status through the Vermont Service Center using Form I-129. The H-1B1 is valid for one year, but may be extended indefinitely.

The only government filing fee for the initial H-1B1 visa is the $100 nonrefundable visa fee. If filing a COS petition to H-1B1, the applicant will have to pay the I-129 filing fee ($190) and the training fee (either $750 or $1500 depending on the number of employees). The $500 fraud fee is not applicable to the H-1B1 visa category.