H-1B Visa Extension beyond the 6 Year Maximum
The H-1B visa is for noncitizens who will work in the U. S. in a specialty occupation. The specialty occupation refers to jobs where the usual requirement is a U. S. bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a specific field. Such jobs include accountants, pharmacists, engineers, information technology professionals, scientists and teachers. The maximum period authorized legal work in the U. S. under the H-1B visa is six years in three year intervals. The maximum six year duration of the H-1B visa includes the extensions one can apply for. The H-1B visa allows the holder to work legally in the U. S.
However, foreign workers can apply for an extension with Columbus Immigration Office which comes with two limited circumstances; these circumstances are:
1) Waiting for an immigrant visa or
2) Waiting for the Department of Labor or USCIS to make a decision on an application that you or your employer has filed or in the pursuit of an employment based immigrant visa (green card)
If you are an H-1B visa holder and are pursuing an employment based immigrant visa or green card in the first, second or third category and would be eligible for adjustment of status (i.e. apply for a green card) but as a result of you being on a waiting list for an immigrant visa to become available you may be able to receive or obtain an extension on your H-1B visa status beyond the six year limit.
In order to benefit from this extra extension provision you will need to prove that you truly are in line and this would be by way of:
Proof of being the approved beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 petition filed by your employer or
Proof of an approved labor certification with a pending I-140
This extension is a useful provision due to the long waiting periods that have developed for employment based preference visas especially for persons from China and India. This provision is available to persons generally from any country.
The provision allows for a maximum three year extension to one’s H-1B visa status. However, if a person requires that much time they will need to request it in their extension application and will need to include a labor condition application covering the whole three year period. In the event that the H-1B visa holder is given less than the requested three years, there is no need to panic, the visa holder is able to apply for more than one extension if they are still facing the same per country visa limitations close to the expiry of the extension.
The same provision is available where an H-1B visa holder has been waiting for a long time for a decision on their labor certification application, employment based visa petition adjustment of status (green card) application. If any of these actions were filed before one reached the end of their fifth year in H-1B visa status, they are eligible to apply to have their H-1B visa status extended beyond the six year limit. There is no limit to the number of extensions.