The H-1B visa is a highly desirable employment visa available for positions that require a bachelor's degree (or the equivalent combination of education and experience) as the minimum requirement to perform the job. Although the H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa, it is considered a dual intent visa, which means it allows H-1B visa holders to enter the US as a nonimmigrant and apply for residency. without violating the terms of your status. H-1B visas are issued for an initial period of three years and can be extended up to six years.
The H-1B Visa Cap
The biggest hurdle for most employers in obtaining an H-1B visa for an employee is the numerical cap that limits the number of visas that can be issued annually. Currently, the H-1B visa is limited to 65,000 per year (the "normal cap"), with an additional 20,000 visas reserved for applications from employees who have graduated from a U.S. institution with a master's or doctoral degree (the "master's cap"). " ). Because USCIS receives more H-1B applications than there are visas available, it conducts a lottery each year to randomly select the 85,000 applications that will be processed and eligible for an H-1B visa.
Before 2020, employers had to submit full H-1B visa applications without knowing if their application would be selected. In March 2020, USCIS began an electronic registration process to reduce the burden on employers by requiring them to submit complete petitions prior to lottery selection. Employers can submit an electronic record with basic information during the registration window, and once the window closes, USCIS conducts the lottery and informs employers if their record is selected. This allows employers to avoid the burden and expense of preparing H-1B visa applications until, and only if, they have been informed that they have been selected and a visa number is available to them. It is important for employers to note that the H-1B registration period begins the first week of March and closes in mid-March.
It is important for employers to remember that the H-1B visa is portable, which means it can be transferred from one employer to another. Workers who have already been issued an H-1B visa can transfer their visa to another employer without having to go through the registration or lottery process again.
Employers Cxempt from H-1B Cap
There are certain employers that are exempt from the H-1B visa cap, which means they do not have to participate in registration or the visa lottery. These employers include:
Institutions of higher education (public or non-profit colleges and universities);
Non-profit entities that are "related to" or "affiliated with" institutions of higher learning (ie, hospitals and medical or research institutes);
Non-profit research institutions; and
Government Research Organizations
It is important to know that to qualify for a cap exemption, it is not necessary for the employee to work "for" the institution of higher education, but only "at" the institution. For example, a private IT company contracted by a university for IT services may have a full-time IT employee onsite, and this position could be exempt from the cap.