Immigrating to the United States is a serious undertaking. The process isn’t quick or easy for anyone.

However, it is typically easier for some people than it others. For example, highly skilled workers have immigration options like the H1B visa, which allows companies based in the US to employ workers in specialty occupations.

This controversial visa option has sparked hot debate in the US, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Many people wonder exactly what this visa does and whom it may apply to. If you have questions about visa options for skilled immigrants, you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, we’ll explain all you need to know about the H1B visa and how you can apply for it.

What is the H1B Visa?

Before deciding if the H1B visa is right for you, you’ll want to get educated on the ins and outs of this highly prized immigration option.

Not everyone is eligible for this visa, but for those who are, it can be a great option for short term but extended stays in the US.

Many employees taking temporary assignments with a company opt to go this route.

The Basics

The H1B visa is not for everyone.

If your job requires special expertise and is at a professional level–and if you have a bachelor’s degree or higher–you may be eligible.

This non-immigrant visa is for highly skilled workers in specialized fields. They typically have expertise in careers like IT, finance, engineering, medicine, mathematics, or similar fields.

Those who do not have at least a bachelor’s degree may still be able to show equivalent work experience.

The moral of the story is that this visa is highly selective and is reserved for immigrants who can contribute specialized skills and abilities to the American workforce.

Why It’s Popular

Because the H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it tends to be simpler than applying for permanent residency in the form of a green card. The process is much faster.

This is what makes the visa so popular among companies who want to draw employees for long-term positions in the US. They can stay for a long time without having to go through the complicated process of applying for permanent citizenship.

However, there aren’t very many visa options.

Because these visas are in short supply, employers often have to look at other categories as well. There are special options for managers and executives, investors, and even Australians.

How to Apply

Even though this visa may sound like the perfect option, there is a bit of complication involved. This is typical for government processes.

Individuals cannot apply for the visa themselves.

Instead, their employer must petition on behalf of the employee for entry. Employers can begin applying for the visa six months before its actual intended start date.

Plus, for every petition filed on behalf of a potential immigrant, there are other forms that must be included. These are meant to ensure that the wage being offered to non-immigrants meets or exceeds the existing standard in that field.

These forms are also designed to prevent visas from being used to import foreign workers in order to end a strike or replace workers who are natural born US citizens.

The H1B visa was a highly popular immigration option in recent years. In fact, in between 2007 and 2013, nearly 800,000 workers came to the US on this visa.

However, with recent changes in administration and new laws passed, things have changed and it’s now a bit more difficult to come to the US under this ideal set of circumstances.

Competitiveness and Recent Changes

Of course, with a great way to immigrate to the US comes a high degree of demand with insufficient supply.

With recent changes to the laws thrown into the mix too, coming to the US under this visa becomes even more difficult.

Visa Cap

Another factor that makes the H1B visa a bit complex is that there is a cap on H1B visas. Only 85,000 new visas are issued each fiscal year.

This is comprised of 65,000 new visas available for foreign workers in professional occupations who have at least a bachelor’s degree.

The remaining 20,000 visas are reserved for qualified workers who have an advanced degree from an academic institution in the US.

Still, the cap has its nuances. The visa is good for three years and can be extended for an additional three years under specific circumstances.

Thus, there’s more than just the allotted cap remaining in the US each year.

Why so selective? At the end of the day, the U.S. Department of Labor must ensure that foreign workers do not take over or adversely affect the wages or working conditions of born citizens.

Luck of the Draw

Because of the popularity of the visa, there is a major difference between how many visas are requested and how many are actually issued. Far more visas are applied for than are actually issued.

The government holds a lottery for the available visas, and the entire system becomes luck of the draw.

Receiving a coveted H1B visa is extremely fortunate, as even very qualified workers have found themselves denied entry through this popular visa.

The visa is selective as is, but it’s even rarer when the visa is made into a lottery system and accepted workers are selected at random.

Need Help Immigrating to the USA?

Do you need help securing an H1B visa or finding a way to immigrate to the US?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. An immigration lawyer can greatly assist the process and improve your chances of success.

We are a private law firm focusing solely on immigration services. We provide solutions to both families and businesses.

Because our law practice is limited to immigration law and relocation services only, we are focused on helping you through the process and finding success in your journey.

Ready to achieve the American dream? Contact us today for help finding your way to the Promised Land.