With the right qualifications and experience, talented individuals from all over the world can find success in the United States. Despite the current challenges of obtaining an H1B visa, many international students and professionals still consider it worthwhile to pursue their professional dreams in the United States.
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations for up to six years. To qualify, the employer must demonstrate that the position requires specialized knowledge and skills and a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent in the specialty occupation. Additionally, the employer must pay either the prevailing or actual wage for the position, whichever is higher. The prevailing wage is determined by surveying wages paid to similarly employed workers in a similar occupation in the geographic area of the intended employment.
The H1B visa is the most commonly used visa category for professional-level employment in the United States, and it can be extended if certain conditions are met. Your H-1B visa can be sponsored by your current employer or a new, prospective employer.
Understanding the basics of the H1B visa process is important if you and your employer seek an H1b visa. The H1B visa program has a numerical limit, or cap, on the number of visas that can be issued each year. This means that not all applicants will receive an H1B visa; instead, a lottery system is used to select who will receive one.
What is H1B Lottery?
The H1B Lottery is a process that takes place every year to determine which applicants will be granted an H1B visa. The lottery system is used when the number of applications exceeds the annual cap of 65,000, plus an additional cap of 20,000 for those who have obtained a Master’s Degree or higher, as well as 6,800 visas for citizens of Chile and Singapore. All eligible applicants are entered into the lottery, and those selected are then allowed to proceed with their application for an H1B visa. The selection process is completely random, and there is no guarantee that any particular applicant will be chosen in the lottery.
What is the next step after the H1B Lottery?
If you are selected from the Lottery, your employer must also provide proof that they have met all labor condition requirements for H-1B workers. Once all required documents are submitted, USCIS will review the application and decide whether to approve each application. If approved, USCIS will issue an approval notice with details about when and where the employee would start.
Don’t be discouraged if you are not selected from the H1B Lottery. You can still apply for it again next year with your employer. Additionally, other visa options could be available to foreign workers that may be more suitable for your situation.
What are the specialty occupations to apply for H1B visa?
Specialty occupations are those that require highly specialized knowledge and a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in the specific specialty. USCIS defines a specialty occupation as “the nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with attaining a bachelor’s or higher degree.” Examples of specialty occupations include software engineers, computer scientists, financial analysts, accountants, doctors, lawyers, architects, and teachers, etc.
Important note for the specialty occupation requirement
USCIS recently added a footnote on occupations that are “usually” associated with attaining a bachelor’s degree. That footnote reads: “’Normally,’ ‘common,’ and ‘usually’ are interpreted based on their plain language, dictionary definitions. They are not interpreted to mean ‘always.’” It is a broader approach for the specialty occupation requirement. It is also important that USCIS recognized that there are positions that can be advanced and specialized without requiring a degree 100% of that time.
What is the relationship between H1B and Green card process?
The H1B visa is a “dual intent visa,” meaning that it allows foreign nationals to come to the United States for work and also pursue permanent residency. However, it is important to note that the H1B visa does not guarantee permanent residency or citizenship; it can provide a pathway to obtaining those statuses if certain criteria are met.
Despite these challenges, many people have obtained an H1B Visa and pursued successful careers in the United States. Working with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the H1B process is very important to ensure the best chance of your application being approved. At Tanner Law Offices, LLC, you will find us compassionate and knowledgeable about the H1B visa process. Please contact our office at 717-731-8114 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.