What is an H1B visa?
The H1B program is the primary method for bringing in professional level foreign employees to the USA. The H1B enables US employers to hire foreign professionals for a specified period of time. The H1B program allows workers in specialty occupations to work in the US for up to a total of six (6) years. One of the things that makes this visa so desirable is that, unlike many other nonimmigrant visa categories, it is a "dual intent" visa. This means that a visa will not be denied simply because a person has intentions to become a permanent resident. The assumption is that if for some reason the permanent residency petition is denied, the person would still have the intention to return home.
Aside from documenting that the position offered is in a specialty occupation and that the employee has the appropriate credentials for the job, the employer needs to verify that the H1B worker is being paid the prevailing wage for the work being performed and that employment of a foreign worker is not harming conditions for US workers.
H1B Visa Qualifying occupation categories are jobs in the fields of computer science, health care, university teaching, engineering, law, accounting, financial analysis, management consulting, architecture and scientific research positions.
The length of time that a worker can have an H1B visa is usually an initial period of up to three years. The initial H1B visa can then be extended one time for up to a combined total of six years.
Other regulatory provisions permit;
(1) the employer to request a period of less than three years,
(2) the employee to be employed on a part-time basis
(3) the employee to work for more than one US Employer simultaneously.
The worker's family may also be permitted to live in the US during the period that the H1B visa is in effect, but can not be a paid employee while on an H4 visa.
During the term of the H1B, the employee can also apply for permanent residency. This is called "Dual Intent", and is a privilege some other US visas do not enjoy.