Overview of H1B Visa Program – A Lifeline of Technology Companies

H1B Visa Program

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa provided by the US government. It gives an employee the right to work in the USA for a period of three years but this duration can be extended up to six years. The H1B visa is intended to fill job vacancies in specialty occupations for which there is a shortage of skilled labor. Specialized jobs are those which needs special skills to work with and that require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. In every fiscal year, starting on the 1st of April, employers can apply for the 85,000 H1B visas that are allotted by the 1st of October. This yearly quota is known as the H1B cap. Out of this, 20,000 visas are reserved for those who graduate from the US universities. After getting enough applications for the following fiscal year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) publishes a memo which states about the closure of the H1B visa application acceptance. After receiving sufficient applications, there will be a process of random selection known as the H1B lottery through which the applicants are selected. An applicant who is having a master degree in some US degree can have two chances for winning the lottery. First, through the reserved 20,000 cap lottery. And the next chance he can avail is through the normal 65,000 quota lottery. USCIS takes 4 – 6 months to approve the H1B petitions selected in the lottery. Even though this is the normal processing case of the H1B visa, employers can go for a premium processing to speed up the process of H1B visa allotment in 15 days. The Premium processing application is more costly compared to the normal processed application. An H1B visa employee is completely limited to work under the sponsored employer. If in any case the job is terminated, the employee should leave the USA within a notice period of 60 days, unless he finds another H1B visa sponsor employer.  

 How H1B Visa helps Technology Companies

It is said that the US has more than tens of thousands of jobs available in Silicon Valley alone. Silicon Valley has the most number of Tech companies and most companies here are H1B dependent. They are called so because they have more than 15% of their workforce on H1B visa. They need more professionals to work on these job profiles. In that case, what the H1B visa is doing is that it fills these technological vacancies with bright minds around the globe. To stay successful in a competitive world, what companies need is talent. That is the reason why many big companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, etc. provides a very huge salary package for their employees. 

How H1B Visa program helps Technology Workers

There are many advantages and privileges for an H1B employee working in the USA. It is the duty of the employer who sponsors for the H1B employee to make sure that he gets all the benefits associated with the H1B visa. The employer should provide the H1B employee with all the privileges that a worker from the USA should get, including the working conditions, salary, insurance, etc. A person with an H1B visa can work on multiple jobs in the USA. But the only condition is that the employee should get separate H1B visa sponsor visas from each employer. Under the Dual Intent Doctrine, a person who is temporarily staying in the USA with an H1B visa can get the permanent residence of the USA. H1B visa holders can bring their spouses and children to the USA under the H4 visa.  Spouses and children on H4 visa can study or even convert from H4 to F1 to study full time. Some H4 dependents are also eligible to receive Employment Authorization Document and work in the USA.

Future of H1B Visa Program

The new executive order signed by President Trump “Buy America, Hire American” aims to increase the employment of US citizens and decrease the number of H1B employees. Also, the number of H1B visa applications getting rejected has increased now. Many applications stay rejected and more evidence is asked for the approval of the H1B visa. The Trump government plans to introduce reforms to H1B policy like increasing the wages for H1B employees and eliminating the H1B lottery. This can cause scarcity of skilled professionals in many tech companies and significantly increase the cost of hiring foreign workers.  The ones who get employed may get benefited through this but from the company’s point of view, it is a huge loss. The new Trump reforms are causing a threat to both the Technology companies and US job aspirants.

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