The H-1B visa program allows employers in Tennessee and around the country to temporarily hire foreign workers to fill highly specialized positions when suitably qualified American candidates cannot be found. Individuals issued an H-1B visa are permitted to remain in the United States for three years, but they can only work for the company that sponsored their application. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services grants 85,000 H-1B visas each year, but 20,000 of them are reserved for applicants who have earned an advanced degree from an American university.
The competition for H1-B visas is fierce, and the USCIS generally stops accepting applications just days after the filing season opens on April 1. In 2018, the agency received 94,000 petitions in five days. Once all of the petitions have been received and processed, visas are issued using a random selection process. This is also referred to as the H1-B visa lottery.
Employers wishing to hire foreign workers under the H1-B visa program should first obtain the necessary application from the Department of Labor. They are also encouraged to have all of their paperwork in order well before April 1. This means time is of the essence as it can take as it can take up to 10 days to receive the required application from the DOL. Employers should also remain in close contact with the foreign workers they are sponsoring to ensure that the information on H1-B petitions is current and accurate.
Attorneys familiar with U.S. immigration law could help employers with the H1-B petition process by checking application paperwork and making sure that petitions are supported by relevant documents. Attorneys could also explain the other paths available to those hoping to live and work legally in the United States.