If your company needs a particular set of skills that your current workforce doesn’t possess, it’s not always easy to find a candidate that fits your requirements.

Local labor pools can lack the diverse set of abilities that an individual business might need in order to grow, and so your HR team might need to look elsewhere in their search for the right candidate. 

Technology like Zoom and Microsoft teams, in line with Mondays and Slack have allowed businesses to hire workers who operate entirely independently, outside of the office environment.

There are some roles however which mean that your employee needs to be physically available in order to carry out their work. In this case, your options move towards a candidate relocating to be able to fill the role. 

Relocation within the United States for a higher profile or higher level role isn’t uncommon, but depending on the requirements of the job itself, your organisation may find it needs to look overseas to find the skill set it needs.

Although this may seem unnecessary in a labor market the size of America, the 2022 fiscal year saw over 270,000 applications submitted through the governments H1B visa programme. At present, this visa is capped so that a maximum of 85,000 are granted per year. 

The process is a complicated one which holds responsibilities for both you as the employer and for the prospective employee.

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The application is initiated by the employer, who needs to complete two stages of the process before the employee becomes involved.

A Labor Condition Application or LCA must be submitted to the Department of Labor, which is used to show that the employer and candidate meet the conditions of the hiring and immigration process.

They also need to register online for the annual H1B lottery. Despite the limited number of applications that can be granted each year, the USCIS doesn’t issue them on a first come first served basis.

Instead, they carry out a lottery selection once a year to randomly select from the pool of applications that have been made.

There’s no set order for these steps to be completed, but the LCA can’t be submitted any later than 6 months before the date you intend the employee to begin their work.

If your application is selected as a result of the lottery, then you’ll be notified through the same online account you set up to register.

Once you have your notification, you can submit an H1B petition to USCIS who will then review the application in full.

If they’re happy with the information you’ve given them, then on approval your future employee can begin their part of the process.

To do this, they must apply to their local consulate or U.S. embassy who can provide them with a visa for travel to the United States.

Once they arrive in the U.S. they can complete the process with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

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An H1B visa doesn’t apply to every job role however, as the focus is on higher level positions.

As such the candidate needs to evidence their level of qualification and experience and there are a few different ways in which they can do this. 

  • They can provide evidence of a bachelors or higher level degree which is relevant to the position they’re planning to take up. 
  • If their qualification was gained from an institution outside of the United States then they need to provide evidence of the qualifications equivalence with a U.S. qualification. 
  • They can evidence any license or certification which allows them to practice professionally in their chosen field
  • They can demonstrate any training or professional experience they have in a similar role in place of a formal qualification.

    It’s important to note that USCIS will count 3 years of relevant experience as equivalent to 1 year of a degree.

    This means that 12 years of experience or relevant training would be equivalent to a 4 year degree. 

As the employer, you’re required to show that the job itself would normally require a certain level of qualification or experience.

This justifies the need to recruit outside of your local area as it shows that the role is only able to be filled by those with a pre-existing skillset. 

The H1B visa initially allows a candidate to remain in the U.S. for a total of 3 years, but can be extended to 6 years.

Should you decide that you’d like to retain their services towards the end of this period, and they in turn would like to stay, the H1B visa does convey some eligibility towards obtaining a green card. 

The last thing to consider is that the visa process isn’t without cost to both you as the employer and to your candidate.

For employers, the various fees can add up to $6470 and the candidate themselves could pay up to $2690 to obtain their visa.

Given the complexity of the process and the costs involved, it’s worth considering professional assistance with completion of the process.

Retaining the services of experienced immigration lawyers can ensure that the process runs smoothly, and avoid any unnecessary costs or wasted time.