One of the biggest challenges for any business is finding the right employees. Sometimes the local (maybe even national) workforce doesn’t offer the talent pool you need, and you become aware of a skilled non-US citizen professional who happens to reside overseas or is in the U.S. working for another company. When this happens, you can apply for the H-1B nonimmigrant visa, which allows U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals to work in certain specialized occupations for a limited period.
Before you file that application, here are six things you should know.
1. Workers must be qualified for “specialty occupations”
As an employer, you must be offering a job that requires at least a U.S. Bachelor’s degree in the associated field. Your chosen candidate needs to have a Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree if they went to school outside the US or a sufficient amount of experience that equals a US Bachelor’s degree. Examples of industries with positions that qualify for H-1B visas include IT, medicine, engineering, science, and finance.
2. There are a limited number of visas available
U.S. immigration law presently has a limit of 85,000 (20,000 of which are set aside for individuals who obtained a Master’s Degree from a US university) new H-1B visas per year. In recent years, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that more than 85,000 applications were filed within the first 5 business days of April. As a result, USCIS ran a random lottery to select the applications that would be processed. Those H-1B applications not selected were returned to the employers and the individuals did not get an H-1B visa. The demand for these visas far outweigh the supply.
3. There is a waiting period before visa holders can begin working
USCIS starts accepting new H-1B visa applications on April 1 of each year, but approved applicants may not start work until October 1 of that same year. As an employer, it is important to know that a successful H-1B visa application will still have a wait time until the candidate may start working. This is something every employer and H-1B applicant should consider.
4. H-1B visas are employer-specific
Once the visa is issued, the worker can only be employed by your company. If the H-1B worker changes employers for any reason while in the U.S., the new employer must file an H-1B application on behalf of that employee. If the H-1B worker will be employed by more than one company at the same time a separate petition must be filed by each employer.
5. H-1B visas are valid for a limited amount of time
The H-1B has an initial duration of three years but can be extended for another three years for a total of six years. After the six-year period expires, the employee cannot remain in the U.S. In some cases, the H-1B may be extended beyond six years if the employer has sponsored the H-1B employee for permanent residency.
6. You have responsibilities after you terminate an H-1B employee
If you end the employment relationship before the employee’s H-1B visa period expires, you are required to pay for the employee to return home. You must also provide the same severance benefits that American workers would receive, such as health insurance continuation. These conditions do not apply if the employee resigns voluntarily.
Williams Immigration has helped companies of all sizes expand their business by hiring skilled foreign workers and can ensure that your visa application is completed and submitted according to USCIS requirements.
If you have any questions or want to schedule a consultation, please call (678) 322-7039 or contact us. We look forward to helping your company grow.