The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has different visa options based on the applicant’s professional skill set and abilities. Foreign nationals can enter the United States to occupy temporary or permanent job offers.
In this article, you will understand how US employers can hire H-1B workers.
H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa – The Fundamentals
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant classification applied to foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States to:
- Perform services in a “specialty occupation”
- Perform services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or
- Perform services as a distinguished fashion model
USCIS defines a “specialty occupation” as a professional occupation that requires:
- “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”
To qualify as a “specialty occupation,” a position offered by a US employer must meet at least one of the following USCIS criteria:
- “Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the particular position
- The degree requirement is common to the industry in parallel positions among similar organizations or, in the alternative, the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
- The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
- The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree”
Applying for an H-1B Visa as an Employer – The Basic Steps
The first step is to prepare a detailed job description, outlining the minimum education and experience requirements for prospective H-1B workers. After reviewing the qualifications of prospective workers, the next step is to determine the prevailing wage.
When hiring an H-1B worker, the employer must pay a standard wage (wage paid to other workers in the same field) or a prevailing wage (statistical average wage paid to workers located in the same area). Consult with an expert attorney to identify the best option for your case.
US employers must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the US Department of Labor (DOL). The purpose of the LCA is to verify whether the proposed H-1B employment meets specific wage and working condition requirements. During this process, H-1B workers must demonstrate that:
- Not sufficient US workers are able, qualified, willing, or available to occupy the existing job
- Hiring foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and work conditions of workers in similar employment
Once approved, the petitioner must file Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) with USCIS. Please note that it is fundamental to submit a copy of the LCA, the required fees, and other supporting documents with the application.
The statutory numerical limit (cap) of the H-1B visa is 65,000 visas per year, with 20,000 additional visas for beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.