Do Unemployment Rates Affect H-1B Visa Applications?

american-flagWith the recent downturn in the United States unemployment rate, some individuals can take advantage of the H-1B visa, a three-year, non-immigrant visa for professional foreign workers operating in the United States.

Do you qualify for this specialized visa? A qualified immigration attorney can let you know for sure.

What is the H1B Visa?

The H-1B is designed for individuals in a specialty profession. A US employer must sponsor someone for an H-1B visa; employees cannot apply on their own, and must meet several key criteria for consideration.

The applicant must have Bachelor’s or higher degree (or experience equivalent) that is relevant to his or her specialized occupation, and the employer must normally require a degree for the occupation. The degree must be equal to a US bachelor’s degree in the United States.

Does declining unemployment improve opportunities?

The United States’ unemployment rate currently stands at 7.9 percent according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the lowest rate in several years. When unemployment rates are relatively low, work-related visas like the H-1B become viable options for some workers, as hiring companies are more likely to go through the application process and pay the required fees for necessary labor.

The USCIS initially grants the H-1B visa for a period of three years, although approved applicants can extend their visas for another three years and can extend thereafter if they have filed for permanent residence in a qualified time period.

As more jobs open up and economy strengthens, the demand for skilled workers increases.

How many H1B Visas are issued?

Each fiscal year, the USCIS offers a limited number of H-1B visas. The federal government, in particular Congress, decides the cap based on financial numbers and indicators from the previous fiscal year. It takes an act of Congress to change the cap level.

For the 2013 fiscal year from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013, the H-1B visa program has a general cap of 65,000 and an advanced degree cap of 20,000. When the USCIS reaches this cap, it cannot approve any visa applications until the next fiscal year. Employers can apply for H-1B visas six months before the scheduled start of a specialized occupation. There are several exceptions to the cap rule that can be investigated with the assistance of an immigration attorney, particularly in the healthcare and education industries.

Given the United States’ declining unemployment rate, the H-1B visa is a viable option for individuals with specialized skills and college degrees. As with most visa opportunities and applications, an experienced Denver immigration can help you select the best option for you.

When Can One Apply?

With Colorado employers thinking about their labor force needs for 2013, one should keep in mind that the earlier one can file an H-1B for a foreign national the better chance of getting within the visa cap. The earliest a US employer can file for a start date of October 1, 2013 is April 1, 2013. It is anticiapted that the cap will be reached within a few months of April 1st due to the improvement in the economy over the past year.

Contact Catherine Brown Law for more information today.