Often overlooked and underutilized, the H1B1 nonimmigrant visa category was
created after President George W. Bush signed into law certain Free Trade Ag
reements (FTAs) with Chile and Singapore on September 3, 2003. Both FTAs, as
well as the H1B1 nonimmigrant visa category, became effective on January 1,
2004. The H1B1 provides a potential alternative to the H1B for foreign nati
onals from the countries of Chile and Singapore.
H1B1 Quota for Chile and Singapore
The H1B1 category has numerical limits that are carved out of the available
65,000 H1B cap. That is, the H1B cap is reduced by the numbers available for
the H1B1 for nationals of Chile and Singapore. Specifically, 1,400 H1B1 vis
a numbers are available for Chileans, while 5,400 are set aside for Singapor
ean nationals. Despite the relatively low numbers, this category has not bee
n used to its full potential so far.
Eligibility Criteria / Qualifications for H1B1
The H1B1 category is for a person in a "specialty occupation" who requires t
he theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge
and the attainment of a bachelor抯 degree or higher in the specific specialt
y, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation. Therefore,
the requirements are identical to those of the regular H1B category. Additi
onally, the H1B1 nonimmigrant classification is available to certain profess
ionals who may not possess post-secondary degrees or the equivalent, but who
will engage in the profession of Agricultural Managers or Physical Therapis
ts (for Chilean nationals only); or Disaster Relief Claims Adjusters or Mana
gement Consultants (for both Chilean and Singaporean nationals).
Pros and Cons of H1B1 and H1B
Similar to the TN visa for Canadian and Mexican citizens, one advantage of t
he H1B1 category is that H1B1 beneficiaries do not need to first obtain appr
oval of the H1B1 Petition from the United States Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS). Consequently, H1B1s can apply directly for their visas at
a United States consulate.
The H1B1 visa category shares the same disadvantages of the TN category, in
that H1B1 visas are only valid in one-year increments and do not provide cer
tain protections available to H1B and L-1 holders under the doctrine of dual
intent. This means that H1B1 beneficiaries may not pursue permanent residen
ce in the United States while in H1B1 status. The availability of this categ
ory, however, does not preclude Singaporean and Chilean nationals from apply
ing for regular H1B status once they are ready to process for permanent resi
dence. As regular MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers know, one who is i
n H1B and L-1 status enjoys dual intent benefits, allowing that individual t
o seek permanent resident status while maintaining the H1B or L-1 status.
The H1B1 visa category should not be overlooked, as it may prove to be a val
id alternative to recruit qualified professionals after the regular H1B cap
has been reached. Unless Congress increases the quota, it has been predicted
that this year, in Fiscal Year 2008, the regular H1B cap could be reached o
n or shortly after the very first business day H1Bs will reach the USCIS; wh
ich will be April 2, 2007. Employers unable to locate workers within the U.S
. may wish to consider making efforts to recruit from Chile or Singapore, in
light of the availability of the H1B1.