H1B1 Category for Chilean & Singaporean Nationals

On September 3, 2003, President Bush signed into law the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. No. 108-77) and the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. No. 108-78). Under the immigration provisions of the Acts, a new H1B1 nonimmigrant category was created that provides 1,400 visas annually for Chileans and 5,400 visas annually for Singaporeans. The annual 6,800 H1B1 numerical cap will be counted against the H1B numerical cap. These provisions become effective on January 1, 2004.

The new H1B1 category is available to “professionals” from Chile and Singapore. For purposes of the two trade agreements, a “professional” is defined as “a national of [Chile or Singapore] who is engaged in a specialty occupation. Unlike the H1B category, which generally requires possession of a relevant professional license as a condition to admission, the H1B1 category does not require such licensure as a prerequisite to admission as an H1B1 nonimmigrant. Professionals admitted in H1B1 classification will, however, be expected to comply with all applicable State and Federal licensure requirements for engaging in their respective profession following their admission to the United States.

Congress has established a yearly cap of 6800 new H1B1 workers. The regular H1B cap is limited to 65,000 available H1B numbers. Of these 65,000 available H1B numbers, 1,400 H1B1 visas are allotted annually for Chileans and 5,400 H1B1 visas are allotted annually for Singaporeans.

The H1B1 nonimmigrant visa is a strictly nonimmigrant intent visa. As such, H1B1 employees may NOT have immigrant intent while they hold H1B1 status in the United States which impacts the ability to pursue permanent residency while in H1B1 status. Consequently, consulate or USCIS officers reviewing an applicant’s H1B1 eligibility may also review the “temporariness” of the H1B1 position and period of H1B1 stay by making sure the H1B1 assignment in the U.S. will end at a “predictable time” and that the H1B1 employee will depart the U.S. upon the completion of the assignment.

Please contact Younossi Law regarding any questions relating to H-1B, H-1B1, E-3s and any LCA compliance issues.