The H1B Visa Program is the official and primary USA work visa / work permit. The H1B is a non-immigrant visa under the Immigration & Nationality Act, section 101(a) (15)(H). It allows US employers to employ foreign workers, from all over the world, in specialty occupations.
The H-1B visa is further classified into the following visa types
This visa category applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.
Most foreign workers in IT/Telecom sector fall under H-1B Specialty Occupations* visa type.
The maximum duration of the H-1B visa is six years (ten years for exceptional Defense Department project-related work). H-1B holders who want to continue to work in the U.S. after six years, but who have not obtained permanent residency status, must remain outside of the United States. for one year before reapplying for another H-1B visa.
The above rules has the following exceptions:
It has generally been set at 65,000 visas per year. The number of new H-1Bs issued each year in the United States is subject to an annual congressionally-mandated quota. Each H-1B quota applies to a particular Financial Year which begins on October 1. Applications for the upcoming Financial Year are accepted beginning on the preceding April 1 (or the first working day after that date).
For FY 2009, USCIS announced that the entire quota for visas for the year has been reached, for both 20,000 Advanced and the 65,000 quota. USCIS would complete initial data entry for all filing received during April 1 to April 7, 2008 before running the lottery.
For FY 2010, USCIS announced that enough petitions were received to reach the year quota.Analysis indicates that the FY 2011 cap may be reached sometime between early October and November since the economy is picking up and the recession is easing.