Handling visa applications for Technology Workers
Posted On: Thursday, July 7, 2016
For many companies, navigating the visa process causes uneasiness, anxiety and stress. Dealing with Visas in the hiring process can seem complicated and expensive. From the information we found, it may not be as costly as one would generally assume. Here is some information regarding a variety of different visas that IT, software, and professional service firms are likely to come across during their hiring process.
Types of Visas
H1B: To qualify for an H1B visa to work in the US, a foreign worker must have a offer of employment in a specialty occupation from a US employer.
Requirements= A specialty occupation is an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of specialized knowledge that usually requires the equivalent of at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience.
Entitlements= An H1B visa entitles the holder to live and work in the US temporarily. An H1B visa is usually granted for an initial period of 3 years and extensions may be granted thereafter (typically one additional 3 year extension is granted). Foreign workers with an H1B visa are permitted dual intent, meaning the applicant can maintain H1B visa status while applying for a Green Card to remain in the US permanently.
H1B1: H1B1 has almost the exact same qualifications/requirements as an H1B except that the applicant must be a citizen of either Chile or Singapore. An H1B1 visa does entitle the holder to live and work in the US temporarily but an H1B1 visa is usually granted for an initial period of 1 year. Extensions may be granted.
H2B: A H2B visa is a temporary work visa for foreign workers with a job offer for seasonal, non-agricultural work in the US.
Requirements= The H2B visa program is open to nationals of countries designated by the United States Secretary of Homeland Security. In addition, the applicant must have a temporary or seasonal offer of employment that can be classified as a one-time occurrence, peak load, intermittent or seasonal need. Also, the employer must demonstrate that the position cannot be filled by a US worker.
Entitlements= An H2B visa entitles the holder to live and work in the US temporarily. An H2B visa is usually granted for an initial period of 1 year and extensions may be granted.
L1: An L1 visa is a temporary work visa for key employees of an international company to be transferred to the US to continue work with their employer. An L1 visa is also applicable for key employees of an international company to come to the US to establish a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the company. The international company may be either a US or foreign organization.
Requirements= The applicant must have been continuously employed by their company for at least one year within the preceding three years in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge capacity and the applicant must be intending to hold a similar position within the company.
Entitlements= Allows the holder to live and work in the US temporarily. An L1 visa is usually granted for 3 years if the company is already established in the US or 1 year for a new company. Extensions of an L1 visa may be granted. Intercompany transferees with an L1 visa are permitted dual intent, meaning the applicant can maintain L1 visa status while applying for a Green Card to remain in the US permanently.
Q1: This visa is a temporary work visa for adults (at least 18 years of age) to participate in a training, employment and cultural exchange program.
Requirements= The applicant must have a US employer to sponsor them and administer the cultural exchange program. Applicants who have previously entered the US on a Q1 visa must have been physically outside the US for at least one year before re-entering.
Entitlements: A Q1 visa entitles the holder to participate in an employment based cultural exchange program in the US. A Q1 visa is usually granted for the duration of the program up to 15 months and extensions cannot be granted.
Breakdown of VISA fees which recently took effect on April 1st, 2016:
- Standard/Base Filing Fee (also applicable to transfers, amendments and renewals): $325 (this is the I-129 petition).
- ACWIA (American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act) / Training Fee: Employers up to 25 full time employees: $750; Employers with 26+ employees: $1500 (some exemptions apply – e.g., educational and nonprofit entities).
- Fraud Prevention & Detection Fee (new & transfers): $500 (not applicable to extensions with same employer).
- ‘Special Fee’: means that if more than half of your employees are H1B or L1 visa holders, there’s an additional fee of $2000. This totals your Special Fee cost to $4000.
- Premium Processing: If you complete an I-907 plus submit a fee of $1225 for expedited processing, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guarantees a 15-day turnaround.
- Without paying the premium processing fee the application could take between 2 and 6 months to process.
- Attorneys’ Fees: Can vary anywhere between roughly $1500 to $10,000.
EB1: And EB1 Green Card is an employment based, first preference Green Card that provides lawful permanent residence in the US to those with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. An EB1 Green Card is also available to outstanding professors, researchers, multinational executives and managers with a permanent offer of employment in the US.
Requirements= Outstanding professors and researchers must demonstrate international recognition for their achievements in their field and have at least 3 years experience in teaching or research in that field. Multinational executives and managers must have been employed by their sponsoring firm or corporation in a managerial or executive capacity outside the US for at least 1 year in the 3 years prior to applying for a Green Card.
Entitlements= An EB1 Green Card entitles accomplished foreigners to live permanently in the United States to continue to work in their field. In addition, the Green Card holder’s spouse and children may be entitled to accompany or join them in the United States permanently.
EB2: To qualify for an EB2 Green Card, the applicant must have an advanced degree or exceptional ability in their profession. Applicants must have a permanent job offer from a US employer who will act as the applicant’s sponsor.
Requirements= An advanced degree is considered at least a Master’s degree or, in some professions, a Bachelor’s degree plus a minimum of five (5) years’ work experience.
Entitlements= An EB2 Green Card entitles advanced degree holders to live permanently in the United States to continue to work in their field. In addition, the Green Card holder’s spouse and children may be entitled to accompany or join them in the United States permanently.
EB3: An EB3 Green Card is an employment based, third preference visa that provides lawful permanent residence in the US to professionals, skilled workers and unskilled workers with a permanent offer of employment in the US.
Requirements= Professionals must possess a baccalaureate degree, or degree equivalent, that is required for entry into their occupation.
Entitlements= An EB3 Green Card entitles professionals, skilled and other workers to live and work permanently in the US. In addition, the Green Card holder’s spouse and children may be entitled to accompany or join them in the United States permanently.
EB4:The EB4 Green Card is an employment based, fourth preference visa that provides lawful permanent residence in the US to specific special immigrants. Eligible applicants under the EB4 Green Card category are exempt from having a permanent employment opportunity in the US.
Entitlements= An EB4 Green Card entitles certain special immigrants to live and work permanently in the United States. In addition, the Green Card holder’s spouse and children may be entitled to accompany or join them in the United States permanently.
EB5: The EB5 Green Card is an employment creation, fifth preference visa that provides lawful permanent residence in the US to foreign investors and entrepreneurs who can invest in a new commercial enterprise in the US.
Requirements= The applicant must make a substantial investment in a new commercial venture in the US that will create at least 10 full time employment opportunities in the US within 2 years. A minimum investment of US$1,000,000 is usually required, however applicants who choose to invest in a high unemployment or rural area may qualifying with an investment of US$500,000.
Entitlements= An EB5 Green Card is usually granted for an initial period of 2 years where the applicant will receive conditional resident status in the US. Once the condition is removed, the applicant will then receive a permanent US Green Card providing lawful permanent residence status in the US. In addition, the Green Card holder’s spouse and children may be entitled to accompany or join them in the United States permanently.
Cost of green card:
While in most cases people can apply for green cards on their own merit; it is possible for an employer to sponsor an employee’s green card. An employer can sponsor a green card through a two step process. First the employer files for a I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker which results in a Visa. For this form there is a $580 (which can be passed down to the employee if desired) filing fee and one can expect the lawyers to cost from a couple hundred dollars to a thousand. There is no obligation for the employer to help the employee’s family apply for a visa. Once the Visa is approved, the employer can help the employees to file for a I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. For an employee between the ages of 14-79 there is a filing fee $1,070 plus lawyer fees which vary.
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Amanda is receiving her BA in public relations, from the S.I. Newhouse School of public communications at Syracuse University. She started as a business development specialist in 2014 and transitioned as a content writer in 2016. Feel free to reach out to her by email and LinkedIn.
Sam is receiving her BBA in Marketing, from the Isenberg School of Business at UMass Amherst. She started as an agency recruiter for Mindcircuit in 2014 and transitioned to a content writer for the business in 2016. Feel free to reach out to her by email, or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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“Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.” USCIS. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2016.