An H-1B visa is a type of work visa that allows foreigners with highly specialized knowledge in their fields of study to obtain employment in the United States. For H-1B visas, the nature of the work is of the utmost importance. Qualifying occupations are ones that require theoretical or technical expertise like architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, law, accounting, theology, the arts, and medicine. The purpose of this visa is to bring talented, ambitious foreign born workers to the U.S. to improve the value of our work force, create even more jobs, and restore our economy. Companies like Google, eBay, Yahoo, and Intel have all greatly benefited from immigrant work visa programs, and their success continues to create new jobs for Americans.
There are several things to note when applying for an H-1B visa. This visa is not for general work authorization; it is for a specific career position with a specific employer. The employer will petition for this visa on behalf of the employee through the Department of Labor (DOL). Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher to be eligible. They need to provide evidence of years of both study and experience. They also need to be properly licensed in their field, when applicable. Even if the job position is one that fits the criteria, the employee still has prove their exceptional skills in their field to qualify. The H-1B visa is good for 3 years, and can be extended to 6 years. After this time, any H-1B holders who have not been granted permanent residency must spend a year outside the United States before applying for another H-1B visa.
There is a limit of 65,000 H-1B visas that are given out per year. There are an additional 20,000 H-1B visas given to qualified applicants that hold advance degrees in their field. Applicants are assigned a number, put into a system, and chosen by Random Selection, also referred to as a Lottery. Applicants with a Masters degree in their field are put through the system first. After 20,000 advanced degree employees are selected, the remaining Masters applicants are put back into the Lottery system. These individuals must now vie with all the other H-1B applicants for one of the 65,000 remaining spots. USCIS will then inform the various service centers which petitions were selected. If a qualified applicant is not granted an H-1B visa, their application and fees will be returned, and they can apply for the visa again the following year. There are certain exemptions from this visa cap. There are no limits to the amount of H-1B visas give to those who would work at universities, non-profit research facilities, and government research facilities.
H-1B visa holders are permitted to go to school, whether part time or full time, as long as they are able to maintain their employment. It benefits the whole country when our best and brightest continue to further educate themselves. Raising the bar on the type of workers we employ only makes other Americans strive to achieve the same successes. With technology ever at the forefront of commerce, the more expansive these companies become, the more we will see new job opportunities arise. As far as I can see, the only problem with the H-1B visa program is that the U.S. government doesn’t give out enough of them per year.