A January 8, 2004 USCIS field memo outlines the important procedural and substantive differences in the H-1B category that can be used for certain Chilean and Singaporean citizens under the Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements, effective January 1, 2004. The memo also references the changes in processing of TN professionals under NAFTA.
"There are a number of important differences between the Chile and Singapore Free Trade Agreements and the existing H-1B nonimmigrant specialty occupation worker category. Below are three of the most important differences.
- There is no petition requirement with the CIS on behalf of a Chilean or Singaporean desiring free trade nonimmigrant (H-1B1) status. Individuals who are not in the United States who wish to be admitted initially in H-1B1 nonimmigrant classification must apply directly to the Department of State for an H-1B1 nonimmigrant visa. Such persons must submit a job offer letter, relevant credentials, and a H-1B1 labor attestation (in the form specified by the Department of Labor), and any other relevant documentation required by the State Department. The NSC role in adjudicating H-1B1 cases is limited to requests for either a change of nonimmigrant status to that of H-1B1 or a request for an extension of stay in that classification.
- Unlike the H-1B category, which generally requires possession of a relevant professional license as a condition to admission, the H-1B1 category does not require such licensure as a prerequisite to admission as an H-1B1 nonimmigrant. Professionals admitted in H-1B1 classification will, however, be expected to comply with all applicable State and Federal licensure requirements for engaging in their respective profession following their admission to the United States.
- Unlike H-1B specialty occupation workers, who may be admitted for up to three years initially, with extensions available normally up to six years, professionals from Chile and Singapore may be admitted initially for a maximum of one-year, and they may extend their H-1B1 stay an indefinite number of times, in one-year increments, as long as they continue to demonstrate that they do not intend to remain or work in the United States permanently. Note that, unlike the H-1B statute, which specifically allows for “dual intent,” there is no similar provision with respect to an H-1B1 nonimmigrant." AMDOC#: 200403003