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Immigration issues: What is an H-1B visa?


President Donald Trump will be in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, introducing his “Buy American, Hire American” campaign.

The president will be signing an executive order directing the various agencies to work to prevent fraud when it comes to immigration and to make sure visas are awarded to the "most-skilled or highest-paid applicants" who come from a foreign country to work in a specific job in the U.S.

Here’s a look at the H-1B visas, who gets them and how they work.

What is a visa?

Here's how the State Department says:

“A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship.

"Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. The Visa section of this website is all about U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the United States.

… U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit.”

What is an H-1B visa?

The H1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa. The visa allows foreigners to work in the United States on a temporary basis for up to six years.

How do you get one? 

To get an H1B visa, the person who is to employ a foreign citizen must first offer that person a job and then must apply for the H1B visa with the U.S. Department of Immigration. Once the petition is approved, the visa serves as a permit to work in the United States for a specified period of time.

Who can get one?

The H1B visa is for those in specialty occupations; those who possess a body of specialized knowledge for a particular job, and those who hold at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

Some of the occupations include under H1B are:

-Accounting
-Architecture
-Arts
-Biotechnology
-Business specialties
-Chemistry
-Education
-Engineering
-Law
-Mathematics
-Medicine and health
-Physical sciences,
-Social sciences
-Theology

What if they leave the job or the job is discontinued?

If the job is lost or discontinued, a foreign worker under an H1B visa must apply for a change of status to another non-immigrant status, or find another employer. If they can do neither, they must leave the United States. As of Jan. 17, the department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services modified the rules to allow a grace period of up to 60 days to have the status changed or to leave the country.

How many people get an H-1B visa each year?

H-1B visas admit 65,000 workers each year. Another 20,000 graduate student workers are also allowed in the country on the H-1B.

How are they awarded?

They are awarded by a random lottery.

How will the process change after today?

Trump’s executive order will instruct federal agencies to tighten oversight of H1-B visas to help prevent abuse of the system.

 


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