The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits a company to hire workers in specialty occupations. This visa category requires that the beneficiary (the foreign worker) have a bachelor’s degree, and the petitioner (the U.S. company) can employ the worker for up to six years.
Can a U.S. Company sponsor a foreign national who is residing abroad at the time the H-1B registration is filed?
Yes. A U.S. Company can file an H-1B registration for a foreign national who is either in the U.S. on some other status (e.g. F-1 OPT status), and can also file a petition for a foreign national who is living outside the U.S. at the time the H-1B registration is filed.
One key difference between these 2 scenarios is that if the beneficiary is already living in the U.S. on some other status and the H-1B registration gets selected in the lottery, the H-1B petition can be filed as a Change of Status. One advantage of filing the petition as a Change of status is that the H-1B employee can stay in the U.S. while the petition is pending with USCIS.
On the other hand, if the foreign national is residing outside the U.S. and the H-1B registration gets selected, the H-1B petition would have to be filed as a Consular Processing. This would mean that the petition would still have to be first approved by USCIS and after it’s approved, the foreign beneficiary would need to apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
Please note that in either case, the earlier date when the H-1B employee will be able to start working in the U.S. on an H-B status is October 1.
Please see our Q&A Blog post on H-1B registration when you click here.
Please see our Q&A Blog post on H-1B visa when you click here.
Please click here to read more about the H-1B lottery system.
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