H-1B1 Visa for Chileans/Singaporeans Free-Trade Agreement Professional H-1B1 Visas

The Free-Trade Agreement H-1B1 visa is available to professionals from Chile and Singapore. There are 1,400 H-1B1 visas for Chileans and 5,400 H-1B1 visas set aside for Singaporeans. Free-Trade Agreement H-1B1 visas are issued for 18 months and are renewable.

Under the Free Trade Agreement between U.S. and Singapore and Chile effective in January 2004, a new category of work visa was created for citizens of Singapore and Chile, namely the H-1B1 visa. Only Singaporean and Chilean citizens can apply for this type of visa. 1,400 H-1B1 visa are available for Chileans, while 5,400 are set aside for Singaporean nationals.

The spouse and minor children of H1B-1 visa holders can accompany the principal applicant to the United States, but they cannot work without authorization.

To qualify for H-1B1 visa category, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Coming to the U.S. to work in a specialty occupation for which he or she qualifies; that is, it must require theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge. Some examples of specialty occupations are jobs in the fields of engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, computer sciences, medicine and health care, education, biotechnology, and business specialties such as management and human resources.
  • The foreign national must have a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in his or her field of specialization. However, certain Chilean agricultural managers and physical therapists and certain of both country’s disaster relief claims adjusters and management consultants may be eligible without a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
  • H1B-1 visa does not allow the foreign national to be self-employed or an independent contractor.
  • The period of employment in the U.S. must be temporary, so the foreign national must demonstrate non-immigrant intent. H-1B1 visas are only valid in 18 months increments, as opposed to 3 year validity periods in H-1B visa status.

Similar like H-1B visa, the H-1B1 allows qualified professionals to temporarily live and work in the United States. The key difference between H-1B1 visa and H-1B visa is the immigrant intent. The H-1B visa allows the H-1B professional to have the immigrant intent while working with his/her nonimmigrant H-1B visa in the U.S., the so-called “dual intent”. However, for H1B-1 visa holder, he/she cannot have immigrant intent. Therefore, H1B1 beneficiaries may not pursue lawful permanent resident status in the United States while in H1B-1 status. In order to be eligible for having immigrant intent, they can change their status from H-1B1 to H-1B.

Unlike the H-1B visa, there is no requirement for the H-1B1 petition to be approved by the USCIS. The candidate can apply for a H-1B1 visa directly at the American Consulate in his or her home country by submitting the appropriate nonimmigrant visa application along with a detailed employment offer letter, a Labor Condition Application certified by the Department of Labor, and the relevant supporting documents.

In consideration of the limited availability of H-1B visas (65,000 H-1B visas each fiscal year), employers may find it useful to consider filing H-1B1 petitions for eligible candidates from Chile or Singapore.  It should be noticed that filing H-1B1 visa petitions does not preclude citizens of Chile and Singapore from applying for a regular H-1B visa petition.