Immigration Advice for H-1B Visa Specialty Workers
Generally, applying for a non-immigrant visa is quicker and simpler than applying for a US green card. As such, most companies wishing to bring in staff for long-term assignments in the US consider H-1B as a good option. However, due to a lack of available visas, employers often have to settle with applying for other visa categories. These include the L-1A for managers and executives, L-1B for specialized workers, E-1 Treaty Trader visa, E-2 Treaty Investor visa, and E-3 for Australians, among others.
Proceeding with an H-1B visa requires a lot of paperwork. Several forms must be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. Here, a credible Florida immigration attorney can help you understand relevant US immigration laws, forms, and processes.
This article will discuss the following aspects of an H-1B visa application:
- Reasons Why an H-1B Visa Application is Ideal
- Matters of Concern When Proceeding with an H-1B Visa Application
- Employee Qualifications and Eligibility
- Specialty Occupation Eligibility for an H1-B
- Possible Alternatives to an H1B Visa
- Limitations Due to the H-1B Visa Cap
- Seeking Legal Help from an Immigration Law Expert
Reasons Why an H-1B Visa Application is Ideal
Through family-based immigration, family and dependents of H-1B visa holders may qualify under the H-4 visa category. The spouse and children, under 21 years of age, may reside in the United States as long as the H-1B visa holder remains in legal status. While an H-4 visa holder is generally not eligible to work in the US, they are allowed to attend school, open a bank account, or obtain a driver’s license. In terms of length of stay, the H-1B visa is initially granted for up to three years. This may then be extended to up to six years.
While the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few US visa categories that is recognized as dual intent. This means that an H-1B visa holder may apply for and obtain a US green card while in the United States. Foreign nationals with an H-1B visa who intend to remain in the US for more than six years may apply for permanent residency. Alternatively, if you do not obtain lawful permanent resident status before the expiration of your H-1B visa, then you must reside outside the US for at least one year before reapplying for another H or L visa.
Matters of Concern When Proceeding with an H-1B Visa Application
While an H-1B visa petition offers a lot of promise, not a lot of visa applications are successful due to the visa cap. Additionally, a foreigner cannot directly apply for such a visa. A US employer must petition for entry of the employee, who can generally stay in the United States for up to 6 years. An experienced Florida immigration lawyer can expound on the pros and cons of this visa type.
Employee Qualifications and Eligibility
Certain criteria must be met to qualify for a job offer in a specialty occupation. Specifically, the foreign national must have at least one of the following:
- A relevant US bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited college or university
- A relevant foreign degree that is the equivalent to a US bachelor’s or higher degree
- An unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice and be engaged in the occupation in the state of intended employment
- Education, training, or experience that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise through progressively responsible positions directly related to the occupation
Specialty Occupation Eligibility for an H1-B
The H1-B visa type is specifically for employees in specialty occupations. For the job to qualify as a specialty occupation, it must meet one of the following criteria:
- The job must have a minimum entry requirement of a bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent
- The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
- The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry
- The job is so unique or complex, to an extent where it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
- The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree
Possible Alternatives to an H1B Visa
For those whose jobs are not considered as specialty occupations, or for which the candidate lacks the experience or qualifications for an H1B visa, it is advisable to consult with credible Florida immigration lawyers. They can help explain if an application may be filed through an H-2B visa, or even an L-1 visa type.
The L-1B visa is, very broadly, a non-immigrant visa that allows companies to transfer certain employees to the United States.
Limitations Due to the H-1B Visa Cap
Each financial year, H-1B visas are subject to an annual visa cap. US employers can begin applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa.
Current immigration law allows for a total of 85,000 new H-1B visas to be made available for every financial year. This number includes 65,000 new H-1B visas available for overseas workers in specialty (professional) level occupations with at least a bachelor’s degree, with an additional 20,000 visas available for those specialty workers with an advanced degree from a US academic institution. Following current trends, the H-1B visa cap has been heavily oversubscribed near the beginning of April each year. As a response, USCIS holds a lottery for the available H-1B visas.
Seeking Legal Help from an Immigration Law Expert
The US H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate-level workers in specialty occupations that require technical or theoretical expertise. These specialized fields include accounting architecture, engineering, finance, information technology, mathematics, medicine, and the sciences.
Any professional-level job that usually requires a bachelor’s or higher degree can be included under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. Due to the visa cap and required degrees and experience, however, if you do not have a bachelor’s degree, immigrating to the United States through an H-1B can be quite challenging. As such, it is highly recommended to contact our Florida immigration attorneys at AmLaw Global for assistance. Legal experts in our immigration law firm will help you with your H1-B visa application.
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