All you wanted to know about H-1B visas but didn't know to ask
Purpose of H-1b Visas
These visas were designed to give American companies the ability to hire "special skill" employees, when no comparable Amercican workers could be found.
The idea was to give American companies the ability to hire the "best and brightest" from around the world.
- Visas last for three years, and can be renewed once (for a total of six years)
- Visa holders must have the following:
- Highly specialized theoretical and practical knowledge in their field.
- A Bachelor's degree, or equivalent experience
- Companies file the visa application on behalf of the workers. The companies may withdraw these visa applications at any time.
- When applying for an H-1B visa worker, employers must attest that:
- They will pay the worker at least 95% of the prevailing American wage for the positionn
- The working conditions of American workers will not be adversely affected.
- There are no strikes or lockouts at the facilities where the visa holder will be employed.
- A notice of intent to hire has been posted at the intended place of employment.
- H-1B Dependent Companies
NOTE When Congress increased the H-1B visa cap to 195,000, they also included language intended to protect US citizens from companies who may use the visas to displace the domestic IT labor pool.
As you can see, the protection clause was weak and companies were able to easily abuse it because no one enforced the law.
Additionally, when the cap returned to the original level of 65,000, the so-called protective measures expired as well.
It should be noted that as things stand now, companies are not required to prove that they have not displaced an American worker when they hire someone using an H-1B visa. If anyone tells you any different, they either do not know the visa regulations or they are not telling you the truth.
H-1B Dependant Companies must also attest that they have made a good faith effort to hire American workers first, and that they will not displace American workers 91 days before or after the hire.
- H-1B dependent companies must have at least 50 employees, and have 15% of their workforce be on H-1B visas.
- Only about 10% of the companies that employ H-1B visa holders are H-1B dependent. None of the big companies....Microsoft, IBM, Intel, etc, are H-1B dependent companies.
- 65,000 visas are awarded annually. This does not include the H-1B visas awarded to non-profit and educational organizations, which do not count against the cap.
- You can search the Department of Labor's database of Labor Condition agreements. We have posted instructions on how to do that here.