The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recognizes that there is a shortage of American workers available to fill specialty occupations at businesses and professional organizations in the United States and therefore allows certain business visas. Approximately 65,000 H-1B Specialty Occupation visas are available through the USCIS each year. Typically, the visas are granted for three years, but may be extended an additional six years. In addition, if the sponsoring employer is willing to continue sponsoring the specialty worker for residency status, the employee may apply for green card status to remain legally in the United State permanently. There are several occupations that are currently listed by the USCIS as specialty occupations, and additional occupations may be considered on a per-applicant basis. The list includes occupations such as:
- Certain healthcare professionals
- Accounting professionals
- Computer analysts
- Database administrators
- Engineers and scientists
- Licensed professionals such as architects and lawyers
In order for an applicant to be eligible for an H-1B Specialty Worker visa, one requires:
- Profession must be a “specialty occupation”
- Petition must be submitted by the employer (there are some exceptions to this requirement)
- Bachelor’s degree required or requisite experience
- Employee must have a bachelor’s degree or US equivalent or experience in the specialty occupation
- The employer must pay the employee the prevailing wage
- The employee meets state licensing requirements if such license is required
Employers may file H-2B visas for their semi-skilled or skilled employees to meet seasonal, intermittent, one-time occurrence or peak time needs. For instance large resorts that cannot meet their staffing needs are eligible to file an H-2B visa to meet their “seasonal” needs. The employer must file a labor certification application with the Department of Labor (DOL) and demonstrate that no qualified worker is able to fulfill the position. Subsequent to meeting this requirement, the employer may file an H-2B petition with the USCIS. Unlike the H-1B visa, the employer may file a blanket petition for their workers. Thus multiple employees may be included in the labor certification and USCIS petition. Since there are only 66,000 visas allotted for the year, it is important that the H-2B petition is filed before the H-2B cap is met.
Other Business Immigration Visas
In addition to H-1B visas for specialty occupations, the USCIS also grants business immigration visas for workers who lack the requisite college education, but have recognized experience in the field. Other business immigration visas include, TN visas under NAFTA, and E-1 treaty traders visas.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (516) 858-2620 to speak to an Immigration Attorney!