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H-1B Visas still an option despite recent immigration policy

For foreign workers seeking a better employment opportunity here in Florida, one of the most popular ways of obtaining the right to work is to receive an H-1B visa, also known as a Specialty Occupation or Professional Visa. In fact, US Citizenship and Immigration Services received about 233,000 requests for this particular type of visa in 2015. For this visa, employers sponsor prospective employees and take care of the application process.

However, there are limits imposed on how many of this type of visa can be granted each year. There are 65,000 available visas in the general-category, while 20,000 are granted in the advanced-degree category. The visas are distributed using a lottery system that does not place priority on more educated workers.

Of course, immigration policy has been in the political spotlight recently, and the H-1B visa program has not gone unaffected. Some people have expressed concern about the lack of prioritization as well as concern about the possibility of a visa holder displacing an American citizen in the workforce. Yet, defenders of the program suggest that the H-1B visa program is vital to the American economic system in that the jobs most likely to be filled using the visas require foreign workers, less they remain unfilled due to a lack of qualified domestic candidates.

One area of the program that will be halted on April 3 is the expedited H-1B visa, which required the USCIS to respond to the request in 15 days. This premium processing, with an extra costs of $1,225, will be suspended for up to six months. The regular processing time is 3 to 6 months.

Despite the current focus on immigration and foreign workers, the H-1B visa remains a strong and vital option for workers looking for a position in the United States that fits their qualifications. For employers seeking non-domestic workers with the skill set they need to succeed in a competitive market, working with experienced immigration attorneys to prepare and submit the required legal paperwork can be vital to securing the right talent.

Source: CNN, "What to know about the H-1B via program," Ray Sanchez & Sarah Ashley O'Brien, Mar. 4, 2017

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