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H-1B1 Visa for Chileans/Singaporeans

U.S. Free Trade Agreement Professional (H1B1) Visa

The U.S. - Singapore Free Trade Agreement and the U.S. – Chile Free Trade Agreement, which took effect on January 1, 2004, created a new class of non-immigrant work visa for Singaporean and Chilean citizens: the H1B1. Only Singaporean and Chilean citizens are eligible as principal applicants. 1,400 H1B1 visa are available for Chileans, while 5,400 are set aside for Singaporean nationals.

The spouse and dependent children, under 21 years of age, can accompany the principal applicant to the United States. To qualify for H1B1 visa status one must meet the following criteria:

  • The position must be a specialty occupation; that is, it must require theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge. Some examples of specialty occupations are jobs in the fields of engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, computer sciences, medicine and health care, education, biotechnology, and business specialties such as management and human resources.
  • The foreign national must have a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in his or her field of specialization.
  • H1B1 visa does not allow the foreign national to be self-employed or an independent contractor.
  • The period of employment in the U.S. must be temporary, so the foreign national must demonstrate non-immigrant intent. H1B1 visas are only valid in one-year increments, as opposed to 3 year validity periods in H-1B visa status.

The United States Citizenship and immigration Services typically approves H1B1 petitions for a one year term which can be extended subsequently.

The H1B1 visa is similar to the H-1B visa: it allows qualified professionals to temporarily live and work in the United States. The crucial difference between the two types of visas is the foreign national’s intent for coming to the United States. The H-1B visa category allows for "dual intent" where the foreign national will be coming to work in a professional position temporarily while also intending to immigrate to the United States. The H1B1 visa applicant, however, has to demonstrate that he/she does not intend to immigrate to the United States. Therefore, H1B1 beneficiaries may not pursue permanent residence in the United States while in H1B1 status.

Unlike the H-1B visa there is no requirement for a Petition for Nonimmigrant worker to be approved by the United States Citizenship and immigration Services. The candidate can apply for a H1B1 visa directly at the US Consulate in his or her home country by submitting the appropriate nonimmigrant visa application along with a detailed employment offer letter, a Labor Condition Application (LCA) certified by the Department of Labor, and the relevant supporting documents.

Due to the limited availability of H-1B visas, employers may find it useful to consider filing H1B1 petitions for eligible candidates. Filing H1B1 visa petitions does not preclude citizens of Chile and Singapore from applying for a regular H-1B visa petition.

Please contact our law firm for additional discussion of this category and alternative options such as changing to H-1B status to allow for starting the process of filing for permanent resident status in the U.S. through PERM.

[Note: Please consult with an attorney specializing in Immigration & Nationality law for professional advice in specific situations.]




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