The H-1B visa: A path for skilled workers

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | Visas

Visas are endorsements on a passport allowing the passport holder to enter, leave or stay for a specified period in a country. The H-1B visa in the United States is a temporary (nonimmigrant), employment-based visa. Its initial duration is for three years, and it can go to a maximum of six years.

The global economy

For certain fields, talent must be sourced internationally. Without the contributions of these foreign nationals, the companies they serve could not remain globally competitive. The United States created the H-1B visa to help these companies.

The specialty occupations regularly associated with the H-1B visa are in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. There’s also a great need to be filled in the areas of architecture, the arts, law and accounting.

These workers are essential drivers of progress. The median wage of this higher-level worker in 2021 was $108,000, as compared to the median wage of $45,760 for U.S. workers in general. Data also shows that employers competing for this sought-after talent often pay wages that are higher than the prevailing wage for those positions.

The cap

Congress first created this category of visa in 1990 and caps the number of H-1B visas issued annually at 65,000, with an additional 20,000 for foreign professionals with advanced degrees. The demand for these H-1B visas so exceeds supply that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency first simply receives registrations from H-1B petitioners. Then it runs a lottery from the pool of registrations to decide who can file an H-1B petition.

Applying for the H-1B visa is a mammoth, convoluted process. It’s well advised to work with attorneys who specialize in this area of law and who can expertly navigate the immigration system and its intricacies.