The US H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, which allows a US company to employ a foreign individual for up to six years. Individuals can not apply for an H1B visa to allow them to work in the US. The employer must petition for entry of the employee. H1B visas are subject to annual numerical limits.
US employers may begin applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa. Since the beginning of the FY 2012 is October 1, 2011, employers can apply as soon as April 1, 2011 for the FY 2012 cap, but the beneficiary cannot start work until October 1st.
The H1B visa is designed to be used for staff in “specialty occupations”, that are those occupations which require a high degree of specialized knowledge. Generally at least the equivalent of a job-relevant 4-year US Bachelor’s degree is required (this requirement can usually be met by having a 3-year degree and 3 years’ relevant post-graduate experience). However, professionals such as lawyers, doctors, accountants and others must be licensed to practice in the state of intended employment.
The waiting time required for the application for H1B visa to be approved varies. However, it usually takes from 1-3 months.