A recent push for talent by tech companies could open new opportunities for highly skilled foreign workers to come to the United States for employment. The H-1B visa program allows employers in the U.S. to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations including technology, science, business, law, art, education and religion.
Many top international companies sponsor foreign workers in the U.S. including Microsoft, Google, Intel, Amazon, IBM and Apple for jobs with beginning salaries of $60,000.
The pay and prestige of these positions make for a highly competitive program. Currently, the federal government caps the number of H-1B workers at 65,000. Although demand for H-1B visas currently exceeds supply, you should not be discouraged from seeking a better opportunity for yourself and your family. In fact, legislative initiatives and judicial lawsuits could expand the program in the near future.
When considering eligibility for an H-1B visa, a few questions may come to your mind.
How do I qualify?
There are five requirements outlined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for H-1B visa qualification. However, the first two requirements are most critical. First, an employer must offer sponsorship. Second, those seeking employment must have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Can I take my family with me?
Yes, immediate family members and children under 21 are eligible to join you as dependents. Spouses and family members may also qualify for work, a driver's license and educational opportunities.
How long am I eligible to stay?
Most H-1B visas are valid for three years but can be extended up to six years. Factors that determine the length of your stay could include the requirements of your job and the needs of your employer.
Can I turn an H-1B visa into permanent citizenship?
Yes, an H-1B visa has dual intent. You are here to work first but may also apply for green card citizenship beyond your H-1B eligibility.
I'm still interested. What is the next step?
If you believe you meet the eligibility requirements of the H-1B visa program, you are likely wondering how to apply. With the proper advice, you can increase your chances of being selected for this program. Even if you are not chosen for an H-1B visa, there are other programs available for talented workers seeking a better opportunity. A legal professional in the United States can answer your questions and help you through the application process.