Gearing Up for H-1B Season: 10 Things Every Employer Should Know

What is an H-1B visa?

As an employer, you may or may not be familiar with H-1B visas. If you plan to hire foreign workers from overseas, then you’ll need to file for an employment-based visa when the time comes. An H-1B visa is one way employers can sponsor foreign workers that have specialized skills or knowledge from outside of the United States. They are temporary, employment-based, non-immigrant visas that allow for a foreign worker in a specialty occupation, to live in and work legally in the U.S. for three to six years. Employers can start applying in April, but the foreign worker cannot start work until October of the same year.

Guidelines for H-1B Visas

So, what are the basics you need to know as an employer?

  1. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives hundreds of thousands of applications from hopeful employers every year, but as of fiscal year 2018, the cap for approved visas remains at 65,000 visas.
  2. The competition between employers is fierce. If your petition is not approved, you will get your filing fees back from the USCIS.
  3. There are 20,000 additional visas for workers with a U.S. master’s degree or higher from an accredited U.S. institution of higher learning.
  4. The employer is called a “sponsor” and the foreign worker is called an “applicant.”
  5. The applicant cannot apply for themselves. The employer has to be the one to do it, and they have to have an open job position available for the applicant.
  6. Usually, you have to have a bachelor’s degree or higher to be able to qualify for this visa, but if you do not, you may be able to show similar or equal experience to qualify.
  7. The employer can pay extra to have your application expedited. Currently,  this fee is $1,225, but please check the USCIS website because this amount is subject to change.
  8. Employers are required to pay all of the associated fees to get the worker into the U.S.
  9. While H-1B visas is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few visa recognized as dual intent, meaning that an H-1B holder may have a legal immigration intent to apply for and obtain lawful permanent residency in the U.S. Therefore, H-1B employees may apply for their green card/permanent resident status while they are working for the sponsor.
  10. H-1B employees can bring their spouses and children under an H-4 visa while they are an H-1B employee. The H-4 visa holder may study in the U.S., but is not permitted to work except under very limited circumstances.

Contact Us

Please keep in mind that the above list is not meant to be a complete, exhaustive list, and there are many nuances to each point that are not addressed in this blogs. Whether you are a sponsoremployer or an applicantemployee, if you would like to know more, and/or need help with H-1B visas, please contact our office at 305-373-5385.