H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional – Chile, Singapore


Guide to H-1B1 US visa (FTA) for Singapore and Chile professionals

There are different types of US non-immigrant visas that allow foreigners to visit and work in the United States for a certain period. One of the most popular categories of US work visa is H visa that allows foreign nationals to start working in the United States for a specific period.

However, one of the US work visas is the H-1B1 visa which is not the same as other types of US work visas as it only allows Singapore or Chile nationals to start working in the US.

If you are also a resident of any of this country and willing to work in the United States, then this visa is for you. Continue reading this comprehensive guide to getting more details about its requirements and application process.

What is H-1B1 Visa?

H-1B1 visa is a non-immigrant US work visa that allows you to work in a US-based company lawfully. This visa is only for Chile and Singapore nationals.

The history behind the H1B1 visa is a free trade agreement signed by the US government with Chile and Singapore. A few years back, in 2004, the United States government signed the free trade agreement. In the agreement, it has been mentioned that individuals of Chile and Singapore are only eligible to apply for an H-1B1 visa and get employed in the United States provided if they meet the visa requirements. Those permanent residents of Chile and Singapore who do not hold passport of any of the country does not get liable to apply for H–1 B1 visa.

In the agreement, it has also been mentioned that in a year, 1400 H-1B1 visas will be allotted to the Chilean nationals, and a total of 5400 visas will be provided to the Singapore individuals who meet all the eligibility criteria. This means, in total, there will be 6800 visas will be provided to both the country.

This visa is provided only to the highly skilled and professional workers of the Chile and Singapore nationals. Those professionals who have successfully completed their higher education and obtained highly certified degrees from a reputed institution including Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral Degrees. In some of the fields like:

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

Besides this, those individuals who do not have higher education degree but are skillful enough also get liable for the H-1B1 visa, Some of them are:

For Chilean nationals:

  • Agricultural Managers
  • Physical Therapists

For both Singapore and Chile nationals:

Disaster Relief Claims

Those Management Consultants who besides specialization also obtained a recognized degree that proves the experience.

In some cases, the H-1B1 visa is similar to the H-1B visa, which is also the non-immigrant US work visa and open for all the individual (including Chile and Singapore) worldwide provided if they meet the requirements. Let us have a look at a few of its differences:

  • In order to apply for an H1B visa, the employer has to file apply for petition form with USCIS, but applying for H-1B1 visas are not petition-based, which means the employer does not have to submit the I-129 forms with USCIS.
  • H-1B1 visa holder has to show that they have an intention to return to their home country.
  • H-1B1 does not need to acquire a license in order to practice the profession
  • H-1B1 visa holders cannot adjust their work visa status to the US green card.

H-1B1 Requirements

Requirements for the H-1B1 visa are similar to H-1B visa in most cases. As in this also both employers and employees have to contribute to apply for the visa.

Visa Requirements for Employers

Employers need to follow a certain process, pay the required fees and submit the supporting documents in order to sponsor the H-1B1 visas applicants to employ in their company:

Employers will first have to provide the job offer to the Singaporean and Chilean nationals. Only those individuals are liable to get this job position who have fulfilled the required eligibility criteria, have the needed experience and skillful enough to give their best.

Obtain Labor Condition Application (LCA): In order to sponsor the applicant, the employer will require to get the labor condition application (LCA). Getting the certification from the ETA – 9030 5EE form from the Department of labor (DOL). This application form is assurance provided by from the US employer to the United States government and the hiring employee that:

  • The salary provided by the US employer will be the full prevailing wage.
  • If there are any changes in the certification, it is the employer’s responsibility to notify the employee regarding the changes.
  • The work environment provided to the employee will be as per the United States laws and regulations.
  • US government will be informed about the work location.
  • Employer will provide complete details to the US government regarding Company, income, job description, and the number of employees working in the company.

Labour certification application is one of the most important parts of the H-1B1 visa application. Without getting the approved labor certification application (LCA), the employer and employees cannot proceed to the next step. It is unlawful for the employees to begin working in the United States without having an approved labor certification application (LCA).

Payment of all the required application fees.

Employers will be required to pay off all the required application fees, which are the same as they paid while hiring H–1B visa applicants, excluding fraud prevention and detection fee. In addition to this, a premium processing facility is not provided in the H-1B1 visa application, which means there is no fee available for this.

US employers who are willing to hire the employees for their company need to submit the documents proving to the Department of labor that the employee is the Singapore or Chile nationals. The documents include a photocopy of the passport, a complete report of the wages that were paid to the state employees, and tax information of the employees.

Once LCA certification is provided to the employer from the US Department of labor, and it is approved, then employees can continue with the actual application procedure.

Visa Requirements for Employees

Besides US employers, the applicant who is willing to get employed in the United States must also meet some of the eligibility criteria and submit the documents to complete the visa application process.

Applicants will require to submit documents like certification, work experience letter, and diploma in order to prove their professional occupation.

Applying candidates who are willing to work in the United States or not granted to work as a freelancer or an independent contractor as they can only be allowed to work under the employer in a US-based company.

Any applicant looking to apply for an H-1B1 visa needs to present the document showing that they have a tie-up with their home country. Some of the documents like property holdings and several other personal documents. These documents and basic details will prove that the applicant has an intention to return to their home country after a certain period. Since this visa doesn’t allow you to stay in the United States permanently, neither you can adjust your status to an immigrant visa. If you are willing to get complete details of the document to prove that you have an intention to return to your home country, you can contact your nearest embassy.

The employee has to submit the document (job offer letter along with job description and benefits) which shows that they have a confirmed job offer in the United States.

H-1B1 Visa Fees

In addition to the employer, the applicant also needs to pay some of the H–1 B1 visas. Some of them are as follows:

Visa application fee: Applicants will require paying the Visa application fee of $190, which is the same as all other H visa categories.

Visa issuance fee: The Visa issuance fee is another H-1B1 visa fee that needs to be paid by the applicant. The exact amount that needs to be paid depends on the location from where you are applying for the Visa. This fee is to be paid to the department of state. You can consult the nearest embassy to check if you need to pay the fee or not.

Remember to keep the receipt safe with you for every fee that you have paid throughout your visa application process. A receipt is a proof that you have successfully paid all the application fees, and there is no outstanding amount that needs to be paid. In addition, you will require bringing all payment receipts during the Visa interview or while submitting your application to the US embassy online.

H-1B1 Application

Once you have prepared all the documents and obtain all the required certifications from the employer and ensure that you are eligible to apply for this visa, now it’s time to proceed with the H-1B1 visa application procedure.

You will need to apply for the H1B one visa application by visiting the local US embassy situated in your country. This means applying candidates can apply for this visa either by visiting consulates in Singapore or Chile. If you are not present in any of these countries while applying for the Visa application, then, unfortunately, you will not be able to apply for the Visa. This is because the free trade agreement signed by the US government has stated that the H1B1 visa is only for the nationals of Singapore and Chilean.

Complete the DS-160 Form

The next step involved in your H1B1 visa application process is completing the DS-160 application form. You can find this form on the internet and ensure that you enter the right and accurate information in the form. It is one of the essential forms that decides about the approval and denial of your application.

Schedule your interview

After meeting all the requirements and following all the instructions, it’s time to schedule the interview as early as possible because there are many in line appointments that might delay your interview date, leading to a longer application processing time. If you have completed your interview sooner, then there are larger chances that you will get the outcome of your application in less time, and you will get to know if you have obtained the visa or not.

Submit the required documents

Some of the documents that need to be submitted by the applicants are listed below:

  • Valid passport of the applicant
  • A job offer letter and description received from the United States employer.
  • LCA certification that you have received from the United States Department of labor.
  • Most recent US Visa passport size photograph was taken in the previous six months.
  • The confirmation page of the DS-160 form

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You can submit the list of documents either through in-person or courier service. If you have submitted the documents in person, in that case, you are required to carry the original document during the interview, but if you have submitted the documents through the courier service, then you need to attach the copies.

Attend the interview

At the interview Centre, the officers will ask you for some basic information and documents that you submitted during the visa application process. Based on the information you provided, the interviewing officer will decide if you intend to stay in the United States. After the interview, you will get the outcome regarding your visa application.

H-1B1 Visa Processing Time

As mentioned, there is no option available for the premium processing in the H-1B1 visa, which means it takes more time than the H-1B visa to get processed. For some, application time may vary depending on the country from where you are applying for the visa. The average time to process the H-1B1 visa application is 4 to 6 months.

The processing time of your application also depends on the relevancy of the information that you provided. For further details about the processing time, it’s better to connect with the nearest US embassy from where you applied the application.

However, if you wish to check the status of the application, then you can visit the US Department of State website. On this website, you can check the status of your application. First, you will require selecting the type of visa (immigrant and non-immigrant); in that section, you will have to choose a non-immigrant visa as H-1B1 visa is a non-immigrant US work visa. After selecting a non-immigrant visa, you will be asked to enter the location, application ID or case number. This page will display the status of your application.

H-1B1 Extension

The validity of your H1B one visa is 12 to 18 months, but if you continue working in the United States for a longer time, you have the option to apply for an extension of your Visa. This means whenever you notice that your Visa is about to expire, you can request the visa extension 4 to 6 months prior to its expiry date. There is no limit to how many times you can extend your Visa, as long as you are working in the United States and prove that you intend to return to your home country Singapore or Chile; once your work gets over, you can extend your Visa.

In order to extend the Visa of the employee, the employer will require to submit the labor condition application (LCA) certification and the employee has to prove that they are currently employed in the United States. There are two ways through which you can renew or extend your H-1B1 visa.

  • Your employer must file the application for an extension of your H-1B1 visa on your behalf 4 to 6 months prior to the expiry date.
  • You can get a new H- 1B1 visa by visiting the embassy outside the United States.

H-1B1 Transfer

You can only transfer your H1B1 visa in two situations:

  • If you are willing to switch new employers while you hold an H-1B1 visa
  • If you wish to transfer your Visa to another type of visa

If you are willing to switch your employers, in that case, your new employer will require to follow the same process of sponsoring an H1B1 visa applicant from getting approved LCA certification from US Department of labor(DOL) and obtain a form I-797A. Before you start working in the United States, your transfer of employer must be approved.

The second way you can switch your employers by visiting the embassy outside the United States and obtaining another H-1B1 visa stamp by the name of your new employer and get a new LCA number on it.

If you are willing to switch your visa to another type of visa, you will require to follow the same procedure that you follow while applying for the Visa the first time. For example, suppose you are willing to switch to H –1B visa. In that case, you will need to obtain an approved LCA certification from the US Department of labor and get the approval of the USCIS petition from the employer and follow the rest of the instructions.

When you hold H- 1B1 visa, you can only apply for other types of visas, excluding American Green Card. If you still applied for the United States green card while on an H-1B1 visa, then it will be considered a punishable offence, and your current visa status will be at risk, and you can also be deported to your home country.

Moreover, if you wish to apply for the green card from the non-immigrant visa, you should first apply for an H- 1B visa, and then you can switch your Visa to the employment-based green card once you have received a valid offer after six years in the United States.

However, all the foreign individuals (including Chile and Singapore) have the option to apply for the US green card directly. To get further details about green card you can refer our green card guide.

H-1B1 Dependents Visa

As per the United States law, spouses and children (less than 21 years of age) are granted to join you in the United States. Upon approval of the H-4 visa, your children and spouse can enter the United States. Also, your children will be granted to enroll themselves in academic studies while on an H-4 visa. Moreover, holding this visa doesn’t grant them to start working in the United States.

Health Insurance for H1B1 visa holders

The type of health insurance for which you are eligible depends on your stay in the United States. Holding H- 1B1 visa, you can get the following insurance:

  • Short-term insurance
  • Long-term (domestic) insurance

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