Understanding the debate over H1B visas

One of the most compelling arguments from supporters of comprehensive immigration reform revolves around H1B visas. Some lawmakers have included a provision in proposed versions of the bill  that would double the number of H-1B visas available. They believe that providing more work visas for highly educated people from other countries will be a turning point in the U.S. economy. There is some debate over whether this is true, but that hasn’t stopped many people from informing their families about the possibility of receiving an H1B visa.

What is an H1B visa?
At its core, the U.S. H1B visa allows American companies to hire overseas workers under special circumstances. Most of the time, these positions require theoretical or technical knowledge in fields like science, technology, mathematics, engineering, medicine and architecture. Many immigrants seek out H1B visas because the processing time is much quicker than it is for a U.S. Green Card. Companies prefer H1B visas in instances where they require staff for long-term projects within the U.S.

According to Workpermit.com, current immigration law allows a total of only 85,000 new H1B visas every year. This includes 65,000 H1B visas for specialized professionals brought to the U.S. from overseas. The other 20,000 visas are traditionally available for people with doctorates from a U.S. college or university.

What requirements must H1B candidates meet?
In most cases, candidates need to have a steady relationship with a U.S. employer to qualify for an H-1B visa. There are instances where the majority owner of an American company can validate the employee-employer relationship. Businesses or their owners will need to petition for the H1B visa at least six months prior to the actual start date written on the visa.

There are a number of resources available for those interested attaining citizenship that outline the complete eligibility requirements for the H1B visa. In general, you should have a bachelor’s degree or higher, or the type of degree you have should be so unique to the profession that it would be extremely difficult for anyone else to do the job.