Dear Mentor:

Do I have enough experience for the H1-B visa?

I have sponsorship for the H1-B from newly formed pharmaceutical company. I have a 2.1 (hon) chemistry degree (BSc) and a MSc Petroleum Geochemistry from very well respected universities in England. I have a year's work experience from a unique scientific vender and my new company wants to utilise my knowledge. Is one-year experience enough to obtain the H1-B visa?

H1-B Experience, England, UK

Dear H1-B Experience:

We are not qualified to comment on your unique personal circumstances from a legal standpoint, because we are not immigration lawyers. We can however express our general views from our experience and knowledge. We believe that all countries, including the US, protect their legal residents for employment. It is only when the local labor pool can not fulfill the demands for talent in the marketplace that the government allows a limited increase in foreign workers. The US currently restricts the number of highly-skilled temporary foreign workers to 195,000 per year.

We have seen opinions expressed by others that say the following. All you need for an H1-B visa is a 4-year baccalaureate degree equivalent to that of a US degree. The position being offered to you should require at least this level of education. You do not need any work experience. Your employer must pay you the equivalent or greater amount to that for similar positions in the company.

The US INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service) requirements do not exactly state these facts. You can read the INS Requirements for the H1-B visa at the official INS website.

The US INS makes decisions based on unique circumstances of individual cases. We have seen H1-B visas approved for individuals who have had little experience and even no work experience. Your one-year experience may be sufficient, provided your education and your work experience make you highly suited for the offered position. It is really hard to judge a priori if your employer can and is making an acceptable case to the INS for why you should be granted the H1-B visa. The INS officials would decide on the merits of your case.

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