What Employers Need to Know About an H-1B Visa

What Employers Need to Know About an H-1B Visa

The H-1B program allows employers to hire workers with specialized knowledge in fields where it is hard for employers to find enough U.S. workers. In this program, an employer can hire a foreign worker and sponsor them when they apply for an H-1B visa. 

What is an H-1B Visa?

An H-1B visa is a work permit that allows the foreign worker to work for a U.S. company in the United States. The employer pays any fees for the visa and submits the necessary paperwork for the applicant. 

The H-1B visa is valid for three years once obtained, but it can be extended to as long as six years. Depending on the kind of work the visa holder does, it may be possible to extend the visa even further.

Requirements for an H-1B Visa

There are specific requirements that must be met by the applicant and the employer in order to obtain an H-1B visa, which include:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree, an equivalent degree from the applicant’s country, or 12 years of specialized experience in the job is required.
  • The degree must meet the requirements for the job.
  • The applicant must have extensive knowledge in the applicable field.
  • The job must require specialized knowledge.
  • The employer needs to show that there is an insufficient number of U.S. applicants for the job.

How to Apply for an H-1B Visa

An applicant and their employer must complete several steps in order to apply for an H-1B Visa, as listed below.

  1. Find a Sponsor: An applicant for an H-1B visa must be sponsored by an employer in the United States. This employer needs to apply for the foreign worker.
  2. File a Labor Condition Application (LCA): The employer must fill out and submit an LCA to the department of labor. In this form, the employer is affirming that they will be paying the applicant a wage that is equal or greater than the prevailing wage for the applicable job in the area in which the job will be performed and that the working conditions will be safe.
  3. File Form I-129: The next step the employer needs to take is to file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. You’ll need to include the following items with this form.
    • Professional membership documents
    • Training certificates
    • A confirmation letter
    • The applicant’s resume
    • Documents evaluating the applicant’s education and experience
    • A letter of support

This form may take three to four months to be processed.

  1. Finish the Application: If the petition is approved, the applicant will need to visit the U.S. embassy or consulate in their country and complete the process. This could take about two to three days.

Family Members of the H-1B Visa Holder

The H-1B visa does have a significant advantage over many other visas in that it allows the visa holder to bring their dependent family members to the United States with them. This would include their spouse and any children under 21 years of age. However, the family members will need to apply for an H4 visa. With this visa, the family member can get a driver’s license, go to school, open a bank account, and get a Social Security number. Also, if they apply and are approved for an Employment Authorization Document, they can get a job.

Employer Takeaways

Hiring foreign national workers can be a complex process that takes a lot more planning and filing than most employers may be used to. However, one of the best ways to make the process a little easier is to use an electronic I-9 management tool. This can make it easy to file and maintain the appropriate documentation correctly each and every time and avoid the penalties that come with non-compliance.