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H-1B visa controversy and requirements

As we've previously noted, immigration is bound to be a major and divisive issue in the upcoming presidential election. While much of the media's attention is paid to the issue of illegal immigration and how to handle the millions of undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the U.S., concerns have also been raised about those individuals who come to work in the U.S. on H-1B visas.

While opponents of this employment visa program argue that it only serves to take jobs away from Americans, proponents contend the program is necessary to ensure that U.S. companies remain competitive. Additionally, those who support the program also assert that U.S. companies are struggling to find enough qualified workers and that the visas are provided only to highly educated and skilled professionals in their respective fields.

 

In order to obtain an H-1B visa, and individual must be sponsored by a U.S. employer and be able to unequivocally demonstrate that an employer has the ability to "hire, pay, fire, supervise" and otherwise control one’s employment. H-1B visas are intended for individuals who possess at least a bachelor's degree and are considered to be highly specialized in their respective fields.

Annually, only 65,000 H-1B visas are issued and the first 20,000 petitioners who possess a master's degree or higher are exempt from this cap amount. Due to the cap on the number of H-1B visas that are issued, employers and employees who wish to participate would be wise to ensure that they submit all of the necessary paperwork and documentation in a timely manner.

An attorney who handles employment immigration matters can answer questions and assist in the H-1B visa application process. Additionally, for employees who are already in the U.S. on an H-1B visa, an attorney can assist in sorting out any issues related to a change in status or employment.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Understanding H-1B Requirements," Feb. 24, 2016

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