Free Trade Agreement Work Visas (H-1B1)
The U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, which took effect on January 1, 2004, created a new class of non-immigrant work visa for Chilean citizens, the H-1B1 Professional Visa. The visa allows qualified Chileans to live and work in the United States, accompanied by their spouse and dependent children. Only Chilean citizens are eligible as principal applicants.
H-1B1 visas are multiple entry and valid for a maximum of 18 months. Extensions and renewals are allowed.
We welcome applicants to apply for this special, FTA visa!
Although we can offer no guarantees about the length of the application process, many applicants for H-1B1 visas have found it faster and easier than the process of applying for traditional work visas.
To qualify for the H-1B1 FTA visa, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
- The position must be a specialty occupation; that is, a position requiring 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. However, applicants have successfully applied for H-1B1 visas for work in other fields, including teachers and fruit inspectors.
- The applicant must have a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in his or her field of specialization. In some instances, a combination of specialized training and experience can constitute alternative credentials.
- The applicant cannot be self-employed or an independent contractor.
- The period of employment in the United States must be temporary. As such, the applicant must demonstrate non-immigrant intent. Note: This requirement makes the FTA Professional Visa (H-1B1) different from the traditional H-1B Temporary Worker visa, as applicants for traditional H-1B visas do not have to demonstrate that they intend to return to Chile when their temporary job is finished. Chileans are still eligible to apply for traditional H-1B visas.
Form I-797 NOT required
As is the case for applicants for traditional H-1B visas, applicants for H-1B1 visas must already have a job offer in their chosen field from an employer in the United States.
However, unlike a traditional H-1B visa, the employer does not have to submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant worker, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, and the applicant does not need to obtain a Notice of Approval, Form I-797, before submitting their visa application.
Certified form ETA 9035 or 9035E from the U.S. Department of Labor provided by the employer; information on how to file for this can be found at the Department of Labor website.
Spouses and children
Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require derivative H-4 visas. Couples must be legally married to qualify for such derivative visas. A copy of the marriage certificate and/or birth certificate(s) for the child(ren) will be required. Spouses, partners and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but rather visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitors B-2 visas or if qualified, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.
Please note that while only Chileans citizens are eligible as principal applicants for an H-1B1 visa, but non-Chilean spouses and children of qualified Chilean H-1B1 applicants are eligible for H-4 visas as dependent family members.
H-4 visa applicants must appear at the Embassy for their own interview (unless they fit into the category of Applicants Who Does Not Require Interview). Such applicants can be interviewed together with or after the principal visa holder, but not before the principal visa holder. When the spouse of a work visa holder does not apply for his/her visa at the same time as the principal applicant, he/she will need to submit a copy of the principal applicant's visa and proof of marriage or parentage. The spouse and each child will have to submit their own application forms.
There is no requirement that the spouse and/or children of an H-1 visa holder apply for a student (F-1) visa if they wish to study in the U.S.; they may study on an H-4 visa.
The holder of an H-4 visa may not work on a derivative visa. If he or she is seeking employment, the appropriate work visa will be required.