If you ever considered obtaining work authorization to live in the USA, you probably have heard about the H1B visa.
In case you are not entirely sure of how this visa leverages other visas available, here is some much-needed information regarding the benefits of the H1B visa.
The H1B Visa is a very popular visa that allows employers to temporarily hire qualified personnel with specialized skills to perform on specialty occupations.
It is a highly popular visa, with more applications each fiscal year, but with a limitation of 65000 new visas yearly available, with an additional 20000 for individuals with master’s degrees.
Having an H1B visa is not necessarily easy, as the process of getting one takes some time and preparation. But, this should not discourage those qualified professionals to their work visas as the H1B visa benefits are many.
How to get an H1B visa?
As mentioned, the H1B visa is designed for foreign nationals with specialized skills to work in a specialty occupation.
To be able to benefit from the H-1B visa, in addition to having a job offer in place, there are some requirements to be met:
For the employee, a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree is required in order to be eligible for an H1b visa.
As for the job, it must be one that requires specialized skills, and having a bachelor’s degree or higher is normally de minimum entry requirement for the position. Additionally, the degree requirement is a normal minimum requirement for similar positions within the industry.
Finally, the position must require both theoretical and practice knowledge, usually obtained in an institution of higher learning.
The employer must electronically register an application for the H1B employee. If selected at the lottery for the annual cap, the employer must file an H1B petition, along with a Labor Condition Application certified by the Department of Labor.
The benefits of an H-1B visa for foreign professionals
Among all visa options, the H1b visa is the one that offers a variety of benefits, not only for their holders but also for spouses and children.
That is why every year more and more foreign workers try to get their hands on one and come to the US to work in a specialized field.
If you don’t know the benefits of the h1b visa for the holder or are unsure whether you should consider the h1b visa among all visa options, here are the main h1b visa benefits to help you decide.
The H1B visa allows their holders to work for multiple employers, provided that all of them have certified LCAs.
The visa holder can have multiple jobs, and work part-time or full-time.
As mentioned, one of the requirements for the H1B visa is having a certified LCA. In a labor certification, the employer makes certain attestations.
One of them to comply with paying the H-1B worker a wage that is no less than the wage paid to similarly qualified workers or, if greater, the prevailing wage for the position in the geographic area in which the H-1B worker will be working.
Such requirement exists to guarantee that hiring an alien worker will not adversely affect the wages and work conditions of US workers on similar activities, and also to guarantee that the H1B worker will not be underpaid compared to the native workers.
What is the minimum salary for the H1B visa?
H1B workers are expected to be paid according to the prevailing wage and such wage varies according to the position, geographical location, and experience level.
It is a concern that the foreign workers under the H1B status are properly paid by their skills, and also, that bringing alien workers will not be prejudicial for the national workers with the setting of low wages.
That is why employers are requested to submit information regarding job title, wage level, and location of the duties to the Department of Labor.
#Period of stay
The H-1B visa allows foreign workers to stay in the US for 3 years, allowing a three-year period extension.
By the end of the 6 years, the beneficiary can apply for a one-year extension, provided that a labor certification application was filed 365 days before applying for the extension, and documentation that an I-140 petition was filed on their behalf within 180 days of the labor certification.
Although the H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa, it allows for dual intent, which is great for foreign workers who plan to seek permanent residence in the US sometime in the future.
This means that the H-1B worker can either come as a nonimmigrant and plan to return to their home country or lawfully seek a change of status to become a permanent resident of the United States.
Prooving the intent to return to their foreign residence is not mandatory and applying for a green card will not impact their legal status.
Another benefit for the H-1B worker is the possibility of bringing their spouse and children to use under the H-4 status. The H-4 visa will be tied to the H-1B.
People under the H-4 status are able to live and attend school in the US and, in some circumstances, spouses are able to obtain a work permit when the H1B beneficiary holds an approved Form I-140 or has been granted an extension beyond the 6 year period under the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21).
Those under the H-4 status are also allowed to seek permanent residence and get a green card.
An H-1B worker is allowed to accept a new job, upon the filing by the prospective employer of a new H-1B petition.
And, since the employee is already under a valid status, it is possible to begin working for the new employer as soon as the petition is filed without having to wait for the new application to be approved.
General H1B visa benefits for foreign workers
H-1B workers are entitled to the same benefits the employer generally provides to similarly employed US workers, such as:
- Health, life, disability, and other insurance plans;
- Retirement and savings plans;
- Cash bonuses;
- Non-cash compensation such as stock options.
In addition to all the H1B visa benefits mentioned, H 1B beneficiaries are also allowed to study in the US and work for more than one employer and freely travel inside and outside of the country during the duration of their status.
Employers can benefit from a qualified workforce and combat local labor shortages, especially in the tech sector.
Disadvantages of the H-1B visa
As you can see, the H1B visa is full of benefits for foreign professionals and for employers as well. But, as expected, there are also some disadvantages of the H-1B visa to be considered before applying for one.
#Annual cap and the Lottery
Every year the US congress allots 65.000 new H-1B visas plus 20.000 visas for master’s degrees, but the number of applicants is a lot higher than the number of available visas.
In order to pre-select the applicants, the USCIS uses a lottery system to randomly select those who can submit their H-1B petition.
Worth mentioning that being selected at the lottery does not mean you receive the H-1B visa. It merely means you can have your petition analyzed by the US citizenship and immigration services and can be approved or denied.
#Requires for a sponsoring employer
That is not necessarily a disadvantage. However, if your intention is to move to the US as a nonimmigrant for self-employment, the H-1B visa is not for you.
The H-1B visa requires an employer-employee relationship and a valid job offer must be in place.
Although the H1B visa allows its holder to become a legal permanent resident, the H1B visa itself only authorizes temporary stay in the US for a maximum of six years.
To get a green card, the beneficiary must follow the whole change of status process and the permanent residency application process takes some time.
#Starting date to work
In order to get an H1b visa, the applicant must follow a strict timetable. The application process starts in March and ends in October.
It is only after October 31st that foreign workers can start working for their employers under the H1B visa, although they can begin to work at a later moment.
Just keep in mind that a prospective H1B worker is not allowed to begin working for their employee before the USCIS approves the visa petition and before receiving employment authorization documents.
The H-1B is only valid if the eligibility conditions are met. At any time, an employer can terminate employment and leave the foreign worker loses their H-1B status.
If termination happens before planned, the employer must cover all costs of sending the worker back to their home country.
On the other hand, if the employee chooses to terminate the employment before the planned date, then the employer does not have to worry about covering the expenses of the former foreign worker.
Unlike some other visas, the H1B visa can be very expensive, especially for small businesses.
It is important to know that the employer is responsible for paying the fees and the employee is not allowed to pay for anything other than the premium processing fee.
The cost for the H1B visa are the following:
- Registration Fee: $10
- Public Law 114-113 Fee: $4000
- Basic Filing Fee: $460
- USCIS Anti-Fraud Fee: $500
- ACWIA Education and Training Fee: $750 for companies with less than 25 employees and $1500 for companies with more than 25 employees.
If you are still not 100% confident about what steps to take, make sure to contact an experienced immigration law firm to help you.
What we do?
Navigating through the several types of visas available can be overwhelming and deciding on which one to apply for is a huge decision to make. But you don’t have to take this step alone.
Herman Legal Group is an experienced immigration law firm with extensive experience in helping individuals obtain work visas like the H-1B visa.
Our team of experienced immigration attorneys will be with you every step of the way, ensuring that your case is handled with the utmost care and professionalism.