Robert Atkinson, President of ITIF
If you're an employer looking to hire a foreign worker for a specialty occupation, consider applying for an H-1B visa on behalf of your prospective employee. Obtaining an H-1B visa can significantly benefit your business and your employee. However, securing an H-1B visa can be complicated, so many employers choose to work with an experienced H-1B lawyer to guide them through the process.
What is an H-1B visa?
An H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign workers to work in the United States in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States. H-1B visas are typically issued for up to three years and can be extended for three years.
What are the benefits of obtaining an H-1B visa?
1. Access to specialized talent
One of the main benefits of obtaining an H-1B visa is that it allows you to access a pool of highly skilled and specialized talent worldwide. Hiring a foreign worker with specialized knowledge and skills can bring new perspectives and ideas to your team, which can help you stay competitive in today's global marketplace.
2. Cost-effective hiring
Another benefit of hiring an H-1B worker is that it can be a cost-effective way to fill a specialized position. Since H-1B workers are required to have a bachelor's degree or higher, they are often highly skilled and can command competitive salaries. However, because the H-1B program has a cap on the number of visas issued each year, it can be more affordable to hire an H-1B worker than to pay a high salary to a domestic worker with the same qualifications.
3. Increased flexibility
Hiring an H-1B worker can also provide your business with increased flexibility. H-1B workers can work for multiple employers (with some restrictions) and change employers if they obtain a new H-1B visa. This can be beneficial if your business needs to scale up or down quickly, as you can hire or let go of H-1B workers as needed.
4. Potential for permanent residency
Finally, obtaining an H-1B visa can be a step toward permanent residency for your employee. While an H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa, it can provide a pathway to a green card if the employee is sponsored by their employer. This can help you retain highly skilled workers over the long term and provide your employee with greater job security.
How can an H-1B lawyer help?
Obtaining an H-1B visa can be a complex and time-consuming process. An experienced H-1B lawyer can help you navigate the requirements and restrictions of the H-1B program and can ensure that your application is complete and accurate. They can also help you address any issues that may arise during the application process, such as requests for additional evidence or denials.
If you're considering hiring an H-1B worker, working with an H-1B lawyer can help ensure the process is smooth and successful. Our H-1B lawyers are experienced with obtaining H-1B visas for employees and have successfully brought many H-1B visas. Contact us to have our H-1B lawyers help you prepare your petitions and start the process of obtaining H-1B visas.
Key Factors to Consider When Applying for an H1B Visa
Congress established the H1B visa category to allow US-based companies to employ highly skilled professionals in the United States. Any applicant with relevant skills that normally require at least a bachelor's degree may apply for an H1B visa to work in the US. There is an annual quota of 85,000 new H1B visas set by Congress, known as "cap-subject H1B visas." Due to high demand, USCIS uses a random selection process known as the H1B lottery to select applicants who meet the quota cap.
New H1B visas are issued based on the USCIS Fiscal Year (FY), which begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th of the following year. USCIS accepts H1B petitions for the upcoming fiscal year approximately six months before the start of the fiscal year. For instance, for the FY 2025 season, the process starts in March, and petitions are accepted from April 1st, 2024. This season is intended for employers looking to hire H1B workers to work in the US beginning on October 1st, 2024.
H1B Visa 2025 Timeline:
The H-1B visa program is a popular pathway for US companies to employ foreign workers in specialized fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, there are annual caps on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued, and the demand for these visas is often much higher than the supply.
To manage the volume of applications, USCIS conducts a registration process before accepting H-1B petitions.
H-1B Visa Key Dates and Procedures for Fiscal Year 2025:
Initial Preparation Phase (December to January): Kickstart your journey by pinpointing prospective H-1B candidates and finalizing your selection. If your candidates have obtained degrees from institutions outside the U.S., it's time to compile their academic transcripts and professional experience letters for credential evaluation.
Labor Condition Application Phase (February to March): Proceed to file the Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor. This critical step is necessary to establish the prevailing wage level and to ensure adherence to the required employment standards.
H-1B Registration Window (March 1 – March 17, 2024): During this period, employers or their representatives can log into the USCIS registration system and submit basic information about each intended H-1B beneficiary. The petitioner must pay USCIS a $10 H-1B registration fee for each prospective beneficiary. Missing this window could potentially set your plans back by an entire year.
Petition Submission Period (April 1 – June 15, 2024): The earliest date that FY 2025 H-1B cap-subject petitions may be filed. If a registrant is selected, they have at least 90 days from the selection date to file a complete H-1B petition. The petition must include a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) and other required supporting documents. This stage involves meticulous preparation of all required forms, supportive letters, and other essential documents.
USCIS Processing and Subsequent Actions (June to October): Once your petitions are lodged, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) commences its processing. During this phase, be prepared to address any Requests for Evidence (RFEs).
After USCIS receives a complete H-1B petition, it will begin processing it, which can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. If the petition is approved, the beneficiary may be eligible to obtain an H-1B visa from a US consulate or embassy abroad. Finally, if the beneficiary is already in the US, they can start working for the employer on H-1B status as early as October 1st, 2024, which is the beginning of the FY 2025 H-1B cap.
H1B Visa Quota for FY 2025 – Masters vs. Regular Cap
The H1B visa program has two categories, namely, the regular quota and the master's quota. The United States Congress has imposed a cap on the number of H1B visas issued annually at 85,000, referred to as the "H1B quota cap."
For the fiscal year 2025, the following annual quota caps are in place for each category:
It is important to note that there are 6,800 visas reserved for citizens of Singapore and Chile under their Free Trade Agreement, which are categorized as H1B1. As a result, the total number of H1B visas issued yearly is less than 85,000. However, Singapore and Chile typically utilize only a few hundred visas.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT H-1B VISAS
Q: What is an H-1B visa?
A: An H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign workers to work in the United States in specialty occupations.
Q: What is the H-1B visa, and why is it important?
A: The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign workers to work in the United States in specialty occupations. It is essential because it will enable U.S. employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers, filling critical gaps in the U.S. labor market.
Q: Why would an employer want to obtain an H-1B visa for an employee?
A: Obtaining an H-1B visa can provide access to specialized talent, cost-effective hiring, increased flexibility, and potential for permanent residency for the employee.
Q: Why might an employer need an H-1B lawyer to obtain an H-1B visa?
A: Obtaining an H-1B visa can be complicated and time-consuming. An H-1B lawyer can provide guidance and expertise to help ensure that the application process goes smoothly and successfully.
Q: Who is eligible for an H-1B visa?
A: To be eligible for an H-1B visa, a foreign worker must have a bachelor's degree or higher and come to the United States to work in a specialty occupation.
Q: What is the duration of an H-1B visa?
A: An H-1B visa is typically valid for three years and can be extended to six years.
Q: How can an employer apply for an H-1B visa on behalf of an employee?
A: Employers can apply for an H-1B visa on behalf of an employee by submitting a petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and demonstrating that the employee meets the requirements for the visa.
Q: What is the process for obtaining an H-1B visa?
A: The process for obtaining an H-1B visa involves several steps, including obtaining a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor, submitting a petition to USCIS, and attending an interview (if required).
Q: How long does it take to obtain an H-1B visa?
A: The time it takes to obtain an H-1B visa can vary, but it generally takes several months from when the application is submitted to when the visa is issued.
Q: How many H-1B visas are available each year?
A: The number of H-1B visas issued each year is subject to a cap currently set at 85,000 visas per fiscal year.
Q: When is the H-1B visa application period?
A: The H-1B visa application period typically begins on April 1st and ends when the annual quota of visas has been met. However, a registration period occurs before the application period, which typically starts in March.
Q: What is the H-1B visa registration period?
A: The H-1B visa registration period is when employers can register their intent to sponsor a foreign worker for an H-1B visa. The registration period typically occurs in March and lasts for several weeks.
Q: What is the deadline for the H-1B visa registration period?
A: The H-1B visa registration deadline varies from year to year. In 2024, the registration period begins on March 1st, and the deadline for registration is March 17th.
Q: What happens after the H-1B visa registration period?
A: After the H-1B visa registration period, USCIS will conduct a random selection process to determine which registrations will be eligible to file a complete H-1B visa application. Employers with selected registrations will have a specified period to file a complete H-1B visa application.
Q: When is the deadline for filing a complete H-1B visa application?
A: The deadline for filing a complete H-1B visa application typically falls in the first week of April. In 2024, USCIS will start taking H-1B petitions on April 1st. However, the specific date may vary from year to year, and it is essential to consult with an experienced H-1B visa lawyer to ensure that you meet all applicable deadlines.
Q: What are the consequences of missing the H-1B visa application deadlines?
A: Missing the H-1B visa application deadlines can result in the denial of the visa application or the inability to secure a visa for your foreign workers. This can have significant consequences for your business, as you may need help to fill critical roles or lose valuable talent to other employers.
Q: Can an H-1B worker work for multiple employers?
A: H-1B workers can work for multiple employers with some restrictions, such as obtaining approval from each employer and ensuring that the total hours worked do not exceed the maximum allowed under the visa.
Q: Can an H-1B worker change employers?
A: H-1B workers can change employers if they obtain a new H-1B visa, and the new employer must file a new H-1B visa application on their behalf.
Q: Can an H-1B worker bring their family to the United States?
A: An H-1B worker can bring their spouse and unmarried children under 21 to the United States on an H-4 visa.
Q: Can an H-1B worker apply for permanent residency?
A: An H-1B worker can apply for permanent residency if their employer sponsors them for a green card. An H-1B lawyer can assist with this process.
Q: Can an H-1B worker start a business in the United States?
A: Yes, an H-1B worker can start their own business in the United States, but they must maintain their H-1B status and meet all the requirements and restrictions of the visa.
Q: What happens if an H-1B worker loses their job?
A: If an H-1B worker loses their job, they may have a grace period of up to 60 days to find a new employer or leave the country.
Q: What happens if an H-1B worker's visa expires?
A: If an H-1B worker's visa expires, they must leave the country unless they have applied for an extension or a change of status.
Q: Can an H-1B worker bring their parents to the United States?
A: No, an H-1B worker cannot bring their parents to the United States on an H-4 visa.
Q: What are the consequences of violating H-1B visa rules?
A: Violating H-1B visa rules can result in severe consequences, such as fines, deportation, and being barred from entering the United States.
Q: What is the difference between an H-1B visa and an L-1 visa?
A: An H-1B visa is for foreign workers coming to the United States to work in a specialty occupation, while an L-1 visa is for foreign workers coming to the United States to work for a multinational company in a managerial or executive role.
Q: Can an H-1B worker apply for citizenship?
A: Yes, an H-1B worker can apply for citizenship if they meet the requirements, such as having a green card and meeting the residency requirements.
Q: What is the process for an H-1B worker to obtain a green card?
A: The process for an H-1B worker to obtain a green card involves several steps, including obtaining a labor certification, filing an immigrant petition, and attending an interview (if required). An H-1B lawyer can provide guidance and assistance throughout the process.
Q: How can an experienced H-1B visa lawyer help me navigate the application deadlines?
A: An experienced H-1B visa lawyer can provide guidance and support throughout the H-1B visa application process, including helping you to meet all applicable deadlines. They can also help you to identify potential issues or obstacles and develop strategies to overcome them, increasing your chances of success in securing an H-1B visa for your foreign workers.
Q: What can an H-1B lawyer do to help an employer obtain an H-1B visa for an employee?
A: An H-1B lawyer can assist with preparing and submitting the H-1B visa application, responding to requests for evidence or denials, and ensuring that all requirements and restrictions of the H-1B program are met.
Q: How can an employer find an experienced H-1B lawyer?
A: Employers can search online for H-1B lawyers in their area or ask for referrals from other businesses that have successfully obtained H-1B visas for their employees.
Q: How much does it cost to hire an H-1B lawyer?
A: The cost of hiring an H-1B lawyer can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the lawyer's experience and location. Employers should discuss fees and expenses with their lawyers before applying.
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