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What is the H-1B1 Visa?

In 2004, the US government signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Chile and Singapore. Under this agreement, Chile and Singapore nationals are eligible to apply to work in the US with the H-1B1 visa. Chile and Singapore permanent residents who do not have a passport from one of the countries are not eligible to apply for the H-1B1 visa.

The agreement specified that during one year, 1,400 visas would be given to Chile nationals, and 5,400 would be given to Singapore nationals. In total, this makes 6,800 visas for H-1B1.

This visa is given to professionals from these two countries. Professionals are those who have completed higher education degrees, such as Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral Degrees. This includes fields like:

- Mathematics
- Computer Science
- Engineering
- Physical Science
- Health care and medicine
- Business
- Biotechnology, etc.

In addition, others who might not have higher education degrees, but have extensive training and special skills also qualify for the H-1B1 visa, such as:

For Chilean nationals only:

- Agricultural Managers
- Physical Therapists

For both Singapore and Chile nationals:

- Disaster Relief Claims
- Management Consultants who have another degree besides their specialization, but can prove experience.

The H-1B1 visa is similar to the H-1B visa which is available to all nationalities, including Chile and Singapore. There are, however, a few differences:

- H-1B1 visas are not petition based, which means employers do not have to file petitions with USCIS
- H-1B1 visa holders have to prove intent that they will return to their home countries
- H-1B1 visa holders do not necessarily have to possess licenses to practice a profession where it is applicable
- H-1B1 visa holders are not allowed to apply for a US Green Card

Extensions

The H-1B1 visa is given for 12 to 18 months, with the potential to extend it on a one year basis, indefinitely. So every time you see your visa is about to expire, you can apply for an extension 4 to 6 months before it expires. The H-1B1 visa can be extended indefinitely as long as you prove you are working in the US and that at some point you intend to return to Singapore or Chile.

Your employer will have to submit the LCA certification and you will have to submit your pay stubs to demonstrate you are working. There are two ways to extend or renew your H-1B1 visa:

- Your employer should apply 4 to 6 months before expiration
- You can seek a new H-1B1 visa at an embassy outside the US

 

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Family

As a rule, your spouse and children under 21 years old are allowed to accompany you to the US while you are working. They can get H-4 visas, which allow them entry into the US, and they are allowed to enroll in academic studies. However, they are not allowed to engage in employment while in the US.

If your spouse is of a different nationality than Singaporean or Chilean, it is best for you to apply together for the visas. The reason for this is that if your spouse applies for the H-4 visa after you, they might be required to go to their home country and apply from the US Embassy there.

Processing Time

Since the H-1B1 visa is not available for premium processing, it takes more time than the H-1B. Processing times vary from country to country, but in general it takes 4 to 6 months for the H-1B1 visa to be processed.

The time also depends on seasonal fluctuations.

Application and Interview

After gathering the certification and documents from the employer, and proving your eligibility for the H-1B1 visa, you can start the application procedure.

You must apply at the US Embassy in your country. This means that you have to apply from the consulates in Singapore or in Chile. The reason for this rule is that the Free Trade Agreement states that H-1B1 visas are only for these two countries and it is much more difficult to apply from other places.

The relevant form can be found online and needs to be filled with full and accurate information. It is one of the most important parts of the application together with your interview.

Schedule your interview

Try to schedule your interview as early as possible, since appointments take time to be scheduled. Also, if you complete your interview early, you will also get a response in less time and will know whether you have been granted the H-1B1 visa.

Attend the interview

During the interview you will be asked about all the information and documents you have submitted, and the interviewers will try to determine whether you intend to stay permanently in the US or not.

Cost

The visa fees that applicants have to pay for the H-1B1 visa include the following:

Petition - $460
USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee - $500
Visa Application Fee – $190 
Visa Issuance Fee (or reciprocity fee) - determined based on your location

For each fee that you pay, you must keep the receipt which proves you have completed your payment. You will need these receipts when you submit your application to the US Embassy online or at the interview.

Visa Requirements for Employees

The employee or applicant of the H-1B1 visa also has to fulfill some criteria and hand in documents for the visa application process.

- The applicant has to prove professional occupation through diplomas, certifications, and work experience letters
- The applicant cannot work as an independent contractor or freelancer
- The applicant has to prove that they intend to return to their country (Singapore or Chile) by presenting certificates such as property holdings or others. 
- The applicant has to demonstrate that they have a job in the US by submitting job offer letters with a job description and benefits

Visa Requirements for Employers

Employers have to follow these procedures, file documents, and pay different fees to sponsor applicants for H-1B1 visas.

- Offer a job position to a Chilean or Singaporean national. The job position has to require a professional who meets the educational and experience criteria.
- Obtain Labor Condition Application (LCA) Certification from the Department of Labor (DOL). This form guarantees the US government and the employee that:
    - The salary will be a full prevailing wage
    - The employee will be notified of any changes made in the certification
    - The work environment will conform to all US laws
    - The government will be aware where the work is being completed
    - The government will have company information, number of employees, state employee job descriptions, and income

This is the most important document that both employer and employee need to have approved before any other steps are taken. It is illegal for the employee to go to the US and start working without an approved LCA.

- Pay the applicable fees. Except the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee, all other H-1B1 visa fees are the same as the H-1B visa. However, since Premium Processing is not available for the H-1B1 visa, the fee is also not available.
- The employer has to hand in documents that prove to the Department of Labor that the employee is a national of Singapore or Chile (hand in copy of passport), their tax information, and a report of the wages that are paid to the state employees.

After the employer gets the LCA certification from the DOL and it is approved, the employee may start the application procedure.

H-1B1 Visa

The H-1B1 visa is for two types of applicant only:

- H-1B1 Visa Chile
- H-1B1 Visa Singapore

If you are a resident of these two countries and possess the passport of one or the other, then you qualify to apply for the H-1B1 visa.

What is H-1B1?
Employer Requirements
Employee Requirements
Cost
Application and Interview
Processing Time
Family
Extensions