Immigration for Business: Understanding the H-1B Visa

H-1B visas are among the most popular methods for employers to hire skilled workers who aren’t US citizens. In this blog entry, we’re going to discuss the process of obtaining an H-1B and discuss some of the key requirements and regulations.

The H-1B visa is a dual intent visa. In other words, the visa holder can live and work in the US while also seeking lawful permanent resident status. This is a very popular visa because of this dual intent property and because of the avenues that have been established to transition from H-1B to US Lawful Permanent Resident. On a basic level, the H-1B position offered to the worker must require a bachelor degree in a specific field as a minimum for entry into that position and the foreign national worker filling the position must hold at least a bachelor degree or its equivalent in that field or a related field to qualify.

One major drawback with H-1B visas is that there’s an annual cap and each year’s quota of visas is used up very quickly. In 2014, the annual cap was reached during the first week that the cap was opened and employers are unable to file cap-subject H-1Bs until April 1, 2015.  As with 2014, over the last several years, the cap has been reached well before the end of the government’s fiscal year, which has resulted in a frustrating situation for employers. The government’s fiscal year begins on April 1l.

Also, with H-1Bs, unlike most other nonimmigrant categories, the employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DoL). The LCA requires that the employer state that the employment of the H-1B worker will not have an adverse effect the working conditions of workers in similar jobs.  Under current processing times, it takes about 7-10 days for the DoL to certify an LCA.  Once the LCA is certified, the H-1B can then be finalized and filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

It’s advisable to hire a lawyer if you’re interested in hiring with an H-1B visa. Because of the quota, you have a fairly narrow window of opportunity every year, and if there’s anything wrong with the paperwork you may have to wait a year to reapply. If you’d like to learn more about how I can help, please contact me today to discuss your business immigration needs!