Program Overview:

  • The H-1B1 program facilitates the temporary employment of non-immigrant aliens in specialized occupations from Chile and Singapore.
  • The program is restricted to accommodating 1,400 nationals from Chile and 5,400 nationals from Singapore.
  • Governed by similar regulations as the H-1B program, the H-1B1 program imposes specific guidelines.
  • Initially, the period of employment is limited to one year.
  • Extensions are permissible twice, but solely in increments of one year each.
  • Subsequent extensions necessitate the submission of a new Labor Condition Application.

Introduction to H-1B1 Visas:

  • The H-1B1 visa, along with its associated H-1B1 status, serves as a specialized category within the H-1B visa program in the United States. It is specifically designed for nationals hailing from Singapore and Chile.
  • There are two variants of the H-1B1 visa: 
    1. the H-1B1-Singapore for Singaporean nationals and 
    2. the H-1B1-Chile for Chilean nationals.
  • These visa categories were established under the Singapore–United States Free Trade Agreement and the Chile–United States Free Trade Agreement, respectively. Both agreements were ratified by the 108th United States Congress in 2003 and became effective on January 1, 2004, following approval by then-President George W. Bush.
  • The H-1B1 visas are colloquially referred to as FTA visas due to their origination from Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
  • Distinction from Other Visa Categories:
    • The H-1B1 visa stands apart from the E-3 visa, which is designated for Australian nationals, despite both being variations of the H-1B visa.
    • Additionally, it differs from the TN visa and its associated status granted to residents of Canada and Mexico, which is linked to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Understanding the Relationship with the H-1B Program

Allocation of Visas:

  • Out of the 65,000 visas designated for the capped H-1B visa program, a portion of 6,800 visas is specifically earmarked for the H-1B1 program. Among these, 1,400 visas are allocated for Chilean nationals, while 5,400 visas are allotted for Singaporean nationals.
  • All approved applications for H-1B1 classification, inclusive of visa issuance and change of status requests, contribute towards these predetermined limits.
  • Utilization of Unused Slots:
    • Any unused visa slots within the H-1B1 program during a fiscal year are carried forward and added to the general H-1B quota for the subsequent fiscal year.
  • Availability of the H-1B Visa:
    • Nationals of Chile and Singapore retain the option to apply for the standard H-1B visa in addition to the H-1B1 program.
  • Opting for the H-1B visa may be advantageous for some individuals, as the program imposes fewer restrictions in certain aspects compared to the H-1B1 program.

Understanding H-1B1 Program Details and Variances from the Standard H-1B Requirements

Methods of Obtaining H-1B1 Classification:

  • There are two prime avenues through which entities can acquire the H-1B1 status necessary to commence employment:
  • Applying for an H-1B1 visa at the consulate in their home country. Notably, nationals of Singapore are only eligible to apply for the H-1B1 visa at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, while nationals of Chile can solely apply at the U.S. Embassy in Chile.
  • Alternatively, if already present in the United States under a different status, the employer can submit a Form I-129 (Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker) on behalf of the worker.
  • Commencement of Employment:
  • Upon approval of the visa application or Form I-129 petition, the worker is authorized to legally initiate employment under the H-1B1 classification starting from the specified commencement date.
  • However, in the case of Form I-129/Form_I-129 applicants, if the worker departs the US for international travel, they must return to their home country (Singapore or Chile) and obtain a new H-class visa stamp from a U.S. consulate to re-enter the US.
  • It's important to note that obtaining this visa stamp necessitates the demonstration of non-immigrant intent by the worker. If fails to do so may lead to rejection of the application, thereby impeding re-entry into the U.S.

Understanding the Labor Condition Application and Eligibility Criteria for H-1B1 Status

Labor Condition Application (LCA):

  • Analogous to the H- 1B:   Employers must gain blessing for a Labor Condition Application from the United States Department of Labor to qualify workers for H- 1B1 status or visa eligibility.
  • While the LCA form remains consistent with that of the H-1B visa, it must be specifically labeled "H-1B1-Singapore" or "H-1B1-Chile" as applicable. Employers have the flexibility to utilize a single LCA for multiple applicants within the same category, encompassing H-1B, H-1B1-Singapore, H-1B1-Chile, or E-3 classifications.

Eligibility Criteria:

Definition of Specialty Occupation:

  • The definition of a specialty occupation for H-1B1 status encompasses a slightly broader scope compared to that of the H-1B visa. Specifically, while a specialized bachelor's degree typically serves as the minimum requirement for an H-1B, trade agreements with Chile and Singapore allow alternative credentials in select professions:
  • Agricultural supervisors and physical therapists for Chilean workers.
  • Management consultants and disaster relief claims adjusters for workers from Chile or Singapore.
  • Employer-Employee Relationship:
  • Analogous to the H-1B visa, a clear employer-employee relationship between the sponsoring employer and the applicant is imperative for H-1B1 visa approval. Notably, H-1B1 visa applicants are precluded from being self-employed or functioning as independent contractors.

Understanding Non-Immigrant Intent, Renewable Admission, and Spousal Visas for H-1B1 Holders

Non-Immigrant Intent:

  • The H-1B visa allows for dual intent, meaning individuals arriving on this visa may possess partial immigrant intent. Conversely, the H-1B1 visa is classified as a non-immigrant intent visa, necessitating applicants to clearly demonstrate non-immigrant intent by fulfilling the following criteria:
    • Maintaining a residence abroad.
    • Exhibiting no immediate intention of abandoning said residence.
    • Expressing intent to depart the U.S. upon visa termination.
  • However, an intention to immigrate in the future, unrelated to the immediate trip, does not automatically disqualify an individual from obtaining an H-1B1 visa.
  • Renewable One-Year Admission:
    • Admission on an H-1B1 visa initially spans 18 months, with the option for renewal in yearly increments. Contrasting the H-1B visa, there is no six-year limit.
    • However, the associated Labor Condition Application (LCA) remains valid for only three years initially or two years for subsequent renewals. Upon expiration, a new LCA must be filed to support the petition.
  • Visa for Spouses:
    • Consorts of H- 1B1 status holders are eligible for the H- 4 visa and its associated status, akin to consorts of H- 1B visa holders.

Assessment of Program Utilization

Introduction and Early Adoption:

  • The H-1B1 classification was activated on January 1, 2004, with the initial approvals for H-1B1 visas occurring in Fiscal Year 2004.
  • It is essential to clarify that these approvals specifically pertain to visa approvals, not the overall count of classifications granted. This distinction introduces a slight delay in the statistical analysis.
  • Individuals from Singapore and Chile, already holding H-1B status, often opted to pursue H-1B visas upon expiration of their original visas, rather than transitioning to H-1B1 status. This preference persisted even if they would have chosen the latter option had it been available initially.

Evaluation of Usage Trends:

  • Even as late as Fiscal Years 2011-2013, when the majority of H-1B visa approvals would typically align with classifications made post the introduction of the H-1B1:
  • The total count of H-1B visa approvals originating from Singapore and Chile remained relatively similar to the total count of H-1B1 visa approvals.
  • In absolute terms, the cumulative sum of H-1B and H-1B1 visa approvals witnessed an approximate 30% increase compared to the count of H-1B visa approvals registered prior to the introduction of the H-1B1 program.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided regarding the H-1B1 visa process is intended for informational purposes only. While efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, it is essential for candidates to conduct their own thorough research and verify details pertaining to their specific circumstances. Visa regulations and procedures may vary based on individual factors and evolving government policies. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to seek guidance from official sources and consult with relevant authorities or legal professionals for personalized advice.