Rebuilding Communities with Immigration Visas
Even though the topic of immigration policy is heatedly debated at the national level, the impact is most commonly felt within the local and regional communities. The H-1B visa program is regularly studied at the national level. However, it cannot be fully understood without fully examining the role H-1B workers play at local and metropolitan levels.
What Is an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa is for a nonimmigrant foreigner to come to America to work in a specialty occupation. This means that the job for which the foreign national is being sponsored must be specialized, and the worker must have specialized training, usually at least a bachelor’s degree. The visa is good for three years and may be extended for an additional three years. Employees working in the U.S. on these visas can be sponsored by an employer for a permanent visa. If a nonimmigrant worker with an H-1B visa is fired or quits a job from the sponsoring employer, the person must either re-apply for and be granted a change in visa status, find another employer or leave America.
What Is Considered a “Specialty Occupation”?
A “specialty occupation” is a legal term for a job that requires hypothetical and actual application in a body of highly specialized knowledge in the area of human endeavor. Common fields where a worker may be employed in a specialty occupation include the following: medicine and health, business, education, law, accounting, engineering, mathematics, physical and social sciences, architecture, biotechnology, chemistry, theology, and the arts. The worker typically must have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education.
What Are the Requirements for an H-1B Visa?
There are some key requirements a foreign worker must fulfill before approval of an H1-B visa can be given. A nonimmigrant worker must establish an employer-employee relationship with the petitioning U.S. employer. The job the worker has must qualify as a “specialty occupation” by meeting the criteria previously mentioned. The job must be in a “specialty occupation” related to the person’s field of study. The worker must be paid at least the prevailing or actual wage for the occupation, whichever amount is higher. Lastly, an H-1B visa number has to be available at the time the person files the petition, unless the petition is exempt from numerical limits. H-1Bs visa has an actual numerical limit or cap set for 65,000 visas per fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions for an H-1B visa filed on behalf of people with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are not subject to the cap; however, all other H-1B visas are subject to the cap. Therefore, application number 65,001 will be rejected, and the foreign worker must wait another year before being given another chance to apply for an H-1B visa and work in the United States.
Recently, the limits on an H-1B visa are often reached within days of them being made available. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) usually receives a larger amount of visa petitions than there are visas available. On April 1 of each year, USCIS begins accepting visas and puts the petitions into a lottery to be selected at random.
Does It Harm the U.S. Economy?
Many Americans think employing foreign nonimmigrant workers is a bad idea, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, understanding how the H-1B visa process works will provide a better understanding of the important role that highly skilled nonimmigrant workers have in our economy and country. Despite what people might think, nonimmigrant workers don’t steal American jobs, do not receive lower wages and are not employed in unskilled labor positions. In fact, foreign nonimmigrants in the country actually help the economy grow, stimulate new job creation and have other positive impacts, according to the American Immigration Council. This is because of the strict requirements placed on both the employees and employers to ensure that the requirements are met and followed to allow a foreign worker to live and work in the United States.
Highly skilled nonimmigrant workers complement American workers, but are not used as a substitution for domestic employees. The H-1B visa program is designed to address the fact there is a demand for more highly skilled workers in the U.S.