If you are a foreign national trying to obtain a work visa in the U.S., you have probably heard a lot about H-1B visas. Another, related option that may be available to you is the H-1B2 visa. This visa is the subject of this article.
We will explain how a foreign worker can qualify for H-1B2 status, and also offer helpful strategies and tips for completing the H-1B2 petition.
H-1B2 visas are available to foreign workers who come to the U.S. to temporarily to perform exceptional services related to a cooperative and development project that is administered by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Both the job position and the foreign worker must meet certain requirements to qualify for H-1B2 status.
To qualify for H-1B2 status, the prospective job position must (1) be in conjunction with a cooperative research and development project, or a co-production project, that is provided for under a government-to-government agreement administered by the U.S. DOD; and (2) require that the person hired have a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree, or its foreign equivalent, in order to perform the job duties.
Once you find a prospective job offer, your employer should be able to tell you whether the position qualifies for H-1B2 status. (If it doesn't, you may still be able to pursue other temporary work visas in order to work in the United States.)
To be eligible for H-1B2 status, the foreign worker must meet at least one of the following four (4) requirements:
If you received your education in the U.S., then you easily meet the first prong of eligibility.
If you received your education from a university abroad, then you may need to obtain a credential evaluation. The credential evaluation will confirm that your educational program is the equivalent to a U.S. degree program. Several companies offer evaluation services. The company will review your transcripts and your degree program and compare this information to similar programs in the United States. Using this information, the company will make a determination as to whether your degree is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree in a specified field. Assuming it find equivalency, the company will provide you with a detailed report that explains how your degree is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree in a specified field, which you can use as proof of your educational credentials.
If a license is required to perform the job duties, then you must possess the license. There is no way to avoid the licensing requirement (but of course, the requirement applies only if the job necessitates a license).
If you do not have a bachelor’s or higher degree from any university, regardless of location, then you cannot meet the first or second prongs. However, in place of education, you can submit proof of your progressively responsible experience in the job specialty. This proof is usually submitted in the form of employment confirmation letters signed by your past (or current) employers, detailing your previous work experience.
To start the process of applying for H-1B2 status, your employer must file an I-129 Petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). (You may have heard discussions about LCAs in connection with H-1B petitions. Your employer does NOT have to complete a Labor Condition Application (LCA) for an H-1B2 petition).
The I-129 form requires that the employer disclose the conditions of the prospective job opportunity (such as wage, location, duties to be performed, and so forth) and information about you, the foreign worker (such as your name, date of birth, current immigrant status if applicable, and the like).
Additionally, per U.S. law, the petition must also be accompanied by a verification letter from the DOD project manager for the particular project. This letter must state that the foreign worker will be working on a cooperative research and development project or a co-production project under a reciprocal government-to-government agreement administered by DOD (details about the specific project are not required).
The petition must also include a statement which lists the names of all foreign workers who are currently employed, or have been employed, on the project within the past year. This statement should also include the dates of these workers’ employment.
Finally, the petition must also contain the appropriate fees. The fees may change from time to time, so the employer should see the I-129 page of the USCIS website to ensure that it's enclosing the appropriate fee.
Your employer should have an attorney managing these kinds of applications. If not, it is highly recommended that you contact an immigration attorney specializing in these matters to discuss your own particular case and circumstances. Immigration attorneys can work with you and your employer to determine your eligibility for H-1B2 status, or help devise alternative immigration strategies that best fit your needs and qualifications. An immigration attorney will help ensure that the H-1B2 application is processed and approved as quickly as possible.