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The H1B visa holder comes under the nonimmigrant worker category. People who have this visa do not have the permanent residency rights of immigrants. Now, how many years is H1B visa valid? The H1B is valid only for a specified period. The holder can choose to apply either for an extension, a change in visa status or leave the United States at the end of the validity period. Workers who continue to stay in the country beyond the visa validity period will lose their legal status and could be deported.
Before you read about the H1B Visa Duration and how it could be extended, checkout the H1B Visa Process.
So, how long does H1B visa last?
Under normal circumstances, the H1B visa time period is initially issued for three years. Towards the end of this period, the visa holder can apply for an extension, usually for a maximum of six years. Six years is the maximum time you can stay in the U.S. on an H1B visa. You may be eligible for a U.S. Green Card at the end of this time.
At the end of the six years, the visa holder can apply for a change in visa category (F-1 student visa, O-1 'extraordinary ability' worker, etc.). Alternatively, they could also leave the U.S. and return on a newly issued H1B visa after a one-year period.
As a general rule, only the duration for which the H1B visa holder lives within the country counts toward the six-year count. Any time spent outside the country will not factor in, even if the visa holder leaves the country and returns on an H1B visa. This provision allows the visa holder to "recapture" any lost time and take full advantage of the maximum term.
Further, the time a person spends in the U.S. on an L-1 visa can also count towards the six-year maximum. Many workers usually swap between L-1 and H1B visa categories. A categorized record of your time spent in the U.S. under each category will help you make accurate calculations. However, applicants who lived as dependents (spouses or children) of an H or L category visa holder cannot include this period of their stay when they get their own H1B.
The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) allows the H1B visa to be extended beyond six years in certain scenarios:
Here are a few other points to note about H1B visa extensions:
Also Read : H1B Extension: How it Works for H1B Holders
Two sections allow the H1B visa holder to apply for a renewal after the maximum six-year period: the A.C. 21 104 C (American Competitiveness in the twenty-first Century Act) and the A.C. 21 106 (a).
Section AC-21 104 C allows the visa holder to apply for visa renewal under the following conditions:
Section AC-21 106 (a) holds the following requirements for an H1B visa renewal if applicants are:
The H-1B visa is unique because it is a 'dual intent' visa. Unlike most other categories, the H1B visa holder can apply to become a permanent resident of the U.S.A. Therefore, you can apply for a green card while still holding your H1B status.
Applying for a Green Card starts with a sponsoring employer who will petition for the employee's status to change from visa holder to green card status. Once an employer files a PERM Labor Certification with the Department of Labor (D.O.L.), they must file a Form I-140 - the Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker. Finally, the employee will file Form I-485 to change their status from H1B to a Green Card.
Getting an H1-B visa is tough, especially through the lottery system. So, the visa holder must proceed very carefully with renewals, extensions, and other changes to avoid the loss of time, effort, and money. You must also be mindful of U.S. federal law and regulations during the length of your H1B visa duration, as any case of violation could cause the loss of immigration status.
With TechFetch H1B, you will be able to find the right information about H1B.
**Disclaimer: H1B rules and regulations keep changing from time to time. For updated information, always refer to the USCIS official website.**