In 2003, the U.S. Congress created a special H-1B program for citizens of Chile and Singapore as part of the laws implementing the Free Trade Agreements with these countries, called H-1B1. Citizens of Chile and Singapore can file their H visa application directly with the U.S. Embassy, rather than having to file a petition first with the USCIS in the United States.
Similar to the general H-1B program, applicants must qualify as professionals, meaning they must have the U.S. equivalent of a bachelor’s degree and the position for which they are being sponsored must also be a professional position. Also, an applicant must have a U.S. company which is offering them a professional position, and is their sponsor for the visa. The U.S. company must be willing to pay the prevailing wage, and must obtain an approved Labor Condition Application prior to the applicant applying for an H-1B1 visa. Additionally, the spouse and children under 21 may also obtain visas and accompany the principal H-1B1 applicant to the United States.
However, the special H-1B1 program for citizens of Chile and Singapore is different from the general H-1B program in several ways. First, the applicant must show non-immigrant intent – that they are coming to the U.S only temporarily and that they do not have the intention to stay permanently in the U.S. Second, the H-1B1 visa is valid for only 18 months, while an H-1B visa is valid initially for up to three years. However, H-1B1 visa holders are eligible for extensions. Third, a person in H-1B1 status in the United States cannot apply for a change of status or for the greencard. Thus, in certain ways, the H-1B1 program is more restrictive than the general H-1B program.