H-1B visas are commonly used by US businesses to recruit professionals who have, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree and work in an area of specialized knowledge. Most of these visas are subject to a "cap" which is a limit on the number of visas the US may grant each fiscal year. The US government's fiscal year runs from October 1 until September 30 of the next year.
H-1B petitions can be filed six months in advance of the requested start date. For example, if an employer wanted a foreign national to start work on the first day of the US government's fiscal year, October 1, the petition could be filed no sooner than April 1. This is when the majority of H-1B cap subject petitions are filed, due to the limited number of H-1B visas available under federal immigration law each year.
Sometimes, the H-1B cap is reached on the very first day. For example, in 2008, USCIS received three times as many visa petitions as they had visas to award. A visa lottery followed to determine which petitions would be selected for review and approval. Many petitioners and employees were surprised and disappointed to find out that their applications were not selected in the H-1B visa lottery, even though the foreign national was eligible for H-1B status, and the employer filed the petition on the first day possible. Even individuals with US Master's degrees found that the H-1B cap was reached on May 1, 2008, just a month after the cap was reached for standard Bachelor's degree H-1B cap cases.
Not all cases must be filed on April 1. H-1B Petitions that are "cap exempt" may be filed at any time during the year. As a result, during our consultations, our immigration attorneys will evaluate the petitioning school, organization, or company information to determine whether the H-1B cap applies.
To give an H-1B case the best possible chance of being selected and approved, we highly recommend that employers and employees in need of work authorization contact us as soon as possible, so that (1) we can determine whether the employee is subject to the H-1B cap; and (2) if so, we can prepare an H-1B petition in time for the April 1 deadline and/or evaluate other visa opportunities or back-up options.
Either the employee or the employer, or both, can schedule a consultation with a McKinney Perry & Coalter immigration attorney. We will look at the job description for the new hire, the desired start date for employment, salary requirements, the employee's education and experience credentials, and other background information to determine whether the H-1B category is the most appropriate.
H-1B For Teachers
Almost all North Carolina schools (and many nationwide) qualify to be an H-1B visa sponsor for teachers when we help them prove they are not subject to the annual limit on H-1B visas. McKinney Perry & Coalter prides itself in serving teachers in public and private schools, universities, and program organizations. We work with teachers and their employers to identify the best temporary and immigrant visa options, and to identify options for spouses and other family members as well.
McKinney Perry & Coalter has extensive experience in handling H-1B, PERM and other employment-based cases for ESL, TOESL, Special Education, Spanish* and other teachers and professors in many states, including North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, and Colorado.
Because teaching positions generally are considered professional occupations, the H-1B visa often is the most appropriate visa category for teacher work authorization. Good planning and legal advice is critical.
Our immigration attorneys help teachers and schools:
- Resolve issues regarding whether there are licensing issues that will impact on visa eligibility, and whether a provisional license will result in a grant of less than 3 years of H-1B status;
- Work with credential evaluators to obtain equivalencies for a U.S. bachelor's degree in education or the specific field of instruction, etc., to avoid common problems many teachers and schools encounter when filing for H-1B status;
- Determine whether there are any options for avoiding the H-1B cap. For example, if a public high school is affiliated with a university that qualifies as an institution of higher education under federal law, the teaching position may not be subject to the H-1B cap;
- Determine whether a change of status from J-1 to H-1B will require a waiver of the 2-year foreign residency requirement. Even if a teacher is not H-1B cap subject, he or she may need to obtain the J waiver now, to obtain H-1B approval before school starts; and
- Walk through the necessary paperwork to ensure that all visa sponsorship laws are met.
What does sponsorship mean? Sponsorship does not mean the teacher eats at the kitchen table of the sponsor or is responsible for the teacher's financial welfare. For H-1B visa purposes, it involves working with attorneys to determine visa eligibility and filing a petition with US Citizenship & Immigration Services. H-1B visas are an affordable option for both teachers and schools.
Schedule a consultation today!