This is part one of a four-part immigration law series.
Talented players from around the globe can be found on nearly all team rosters across the sporting world. To beat the competition, the best teams seek talent without regard to borders. Taking a page from the playbook of the sports world, many U.S. companies are hiring foreign-born talent to gain a competitive edge. The best candidates for executive, managerial, and professional jobs are not always U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Many talented and skilled foreign national job candidates are already in the U.S. attending U.S. colleges and universities. But, foreign students only have limited work authorization. So how do employers secure long-term employment authorization when they find a talented, skilled foreign-born candidate? There are a number of options. This four-part blog series will address one of the more popular options, the H-1B visa.
H1B Visa: The Basic Game Plan
In the game of business immigration, the H-1B visa is the utility in-fielder – one with power, speed, and the flexibility to handle many positions. It allows U.S. employers to hire skilled professional level foreign nationals in a wide variety of jobs. Though it is primarily used for engineers and computer professionals, it can also be used for teachers, professors, researchers, physicians, physical therapists and other professional occupations.
Because of its versatility, the H-1B visa program is among the most heavily used. It is so popular, in fact, that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that all 85,000 available H-1B visas for the past several fiscal years were requested at the earliest opportunity a March registration and lottery selection process, over six months before the Fiscal year began. This coming fiscal year’s H-1B lottery registration begins today, February 21, for online account creation, with registration of employment candidates beginning March 1, and 12:00 noon (ET). The registration period closes noon (ET) March 17. By March 31, USCIS will conduct the lottery and notify those selected.
Needless to say, this process can leave a number of employers and prospective employees “on the disabled list” – potential talent to help your team, but not yet in the game. Thus, advance planning is critical to avoid the visa quota problem.
The H-1B visa, which is named after the sub-section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that describes it, authorizes qualified foreign nationals to work in temporary professional employment in the United States.[i] Using this visa, eligible employers can recruit and hire foreign nationals to perform work in “specialty occupations.”
To obtain an H-1B visa, the U.S. employer (the petitioner), the prospective employee (the beneficiary), and the offered job must all qualify for eligibility. Qualifications for each of these players must be evaluated prior to making a petition for the visa. Many times, where it is determined that one of these three do not qualify, there is another visa category that will work. For the sake of time, money, and effort, it is always better to have done your scouting beforehand.
Questions about this topic may be directed to any member of the Miller Johnson Immigration Law Practice Group.
Continue onto the next post in this series. This will be live on February 27.
[i] 8 USC §1101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b)