H-1B Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for H-1B status, the following requirements must be met:

  • The employee must have an offer of employment from a U.S. employer; an employee may not self-petition.
  • The job must qualify as a "specialty occupation," as explained below.
  • The employee must have the minimum requirements necessary for the specialty occupation at the time of application, which must be at least a bachelor's degree in a specific field of study, and any licenses, certifications, or other specific requirements for the position.
  • The employer must agree to certain conditions, including payment of the required wage (determined by ISSO during the preparation of the application).
  • Individuals who have held J visa status and are subject to the 2-year home residence requirement are not eligible for H-1B status until that requirement has been fulfilled or waived.
  • H-1B status is limited to 6 years, inclusive of all employers; the 6-year period starts over after an employee has left the U.S. for one full year. Exceptions to the 6-year limit exist for certain individuals who have reached a specific stage of the "Green Card" process.

Specialty Occupations

For immigration purposes, a "specialty occupation" is defined as an occupation that requires "a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States."

Some positions clearly meet this definition, and others may require further discussion about eligibility (for example, position descriptions that allow for a combination of education and experience as an alternative to a degree requirement, or that require a degree in an unspecified field).

Please contact ISSO if you would like to discuss H-1B eligibility for a particular position.

Important Note

The employing department must contact ISSO if a material change occurs in the employee's job (duties, % time of appointment, change/addition of work sites, title, salary, or change of department). ISSO will follow H-1B regulations to determine whether no action, the posting of a labor condition application, or a new petition will be required. Please read the Changes in Employment page for important information about adding/changing work sites.

If the employment was terminated by the employer for any reason, the employer is responsible for the reasonable costs of return transportation of the employee to their last place of foreign residence. The department which employs the H-1B employee is responsible to provide for the costs of the return transportation.