New H-1B Visa Extension Law

December 23, 2002 Advisory

In a major immigration law development, on November 2, 2002, President Bush signed into law a measure that allows H-1B nonimmigrant visa holders to extend their status in one year increments beyond the six year limitation if a labor certification application has been pending for at least 365 days. Employers sponsor foreign workers for H-1B visas for specialty occupations such as positions that require, at a minimum, attainment of a bachelor's degree. Subsequently, the employer may decide to sponsor the H-1B visa holder for permanent resident status ("green card"). For many H-1B visa holders, the labor certification application is the first step in the permanent resident process. The Department of Labor processes the labor certification application. After that application is processed, the I-140 immigrant petition and the I-485 adjustment of status to a permanent resident petition are filed with the INS.