The H-1B is the most talked about visa in all U.S. immigration. But with the competitive H-1B lottery and the overall difficulty of obtaining an H-1B, many immigrants overlook the advantages of this valuable visa. This article focuses on the H-1B benefits for employers, employees, and their families.
Introduction to the H-1B Visa
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to hire foreign workers. One of many U.S. work visas—others include the L-1, O-1, E-2, and more—the H-1B is the most common option for American companies hiring international talent in certain specialty occupations. To qualify for the H-1B, candidates are typically required to have a Bachelor's degree and a U.S. job offer in a field related to their degree.
12 Benefits of the H-1 B Visa
H-1B Benefits for Employers
- Combat labor shortages
Due to significant labor shortages in the U.S., many American companies must find skilled labor elsewhere. Hiring international talent either involves setting up an office abroad or relocating foreign workers to a U.S. office. The H-1B visa allows American companies to hire skilled workers in specialty occupations, such as engineers, IT professionals, consultants, and more. In this way, the H-1B helps companies across the U.S. combat labor shortages by filling temporary positions with long-term employment opportunities.
- Gain access to a diverse talent pool
By utilizing the H-1B, companies can tap into a diverse talent pool that expands across borders. They can hire the best of the best in any specialty occupation when their hiring is not limited by physical boundaries or nationality. In addition, hiring internationally enables companies to access skilled workers with diverse skills and experiences that can help drive innovation and creativity in the workplace.
- Advance global competitiveness with cultural and linguistic diversity
Hiring immigrants from diverse backgrounds can help U.S. companies increase their local and global impact. For instance, a growing U.S. startup that wants to expand to new markets abroad might want to hire employees from that region who understand the language and culture and can aid with expansion. In addition, hiring international talent can help U.S. companies expand their impact within the U.S. For instance, hiring multilingual employees can help companies tap into non-English speaking communities within the U.S.
- Advance employee loyalty
If you sponsor their visa, employees are more likely to stay with your company. A visa sponsorship not only shows significant investment in their professional career, but it also gives the employee an opportunity they would not otherwise have to move to a new country. After sponsoring an H-1B, employers can continue to support their employee's immigration journeys by supporting the green card process.
H-1B Benefits for Employees and their families
- Up to six years of U.S. work authorization
Immigrants can live and work in the U.S. for up to six years on the H-1B and potentially longer under certain circumstances (explained below). Finding a way to move to the U.S. legally can be difficult, so the ability to do so on the H-1B is one of the most overlooked yet important benefits of the visa.
- H-1B extension beyond six years with an approved I-140
While H-1Bs are technically only valid for up to six years, immigrants can continue to work on an H-1B beyond the six-year mark if they have an approved I-140 petition. This is a particular advantage for individuals from India and China, who may have to wait several years before filing a green card application but still want to remain in the U.S.
- Guaranteed pay
All U.S. employers are required to pay workers the local minimum wage, but the minimum wage is often far too low for the skill level and experience of foreign workers. H-1B visas require employers to pay foreign workers a "prevailing wage." The prevailing wage is an average salary or hourly rate based on the worker's experience level, education, and work location. This guarantees that immigrant workers are paid a livable wage for the area comparable to what other workers make for the same role and background.
- Work authorization for spouses
The H-1B allows H-1B spouses to work in the U.S. Unlike H-1B holders who are tied to the petitioning company, spouses can work for any U.S. company with their H-4 work authorization. This allows immigrant families to increase their income, build a life in the U.S. or send back to family abroad.
- The ability for children and spouses to study in the U.S.
Children (unmarried and under 21) and spouses of H-1B visa holders can study in the U.S. on H-4 status. Children can attend public or private schools, and college-age adult children can attend U.S. universities, community colleges, and other institutions without needing a student visa.
- A clear pathway to permanent residency
Adjusting status and becoming a permanent resident is fairly straightforward on the H-1B. After obtaining a green card, immigrants and their families can live and work in the U.S. without the need for visa sponsorship by a U.S. company. Many H-1B-sponsoring companies also sponsor the green card process for their employees. This opens up more employment opportunities as green card holders can work for any U.S. company and live anywhere in the country.
- Dual-intent status
The H-1B is a dual-intent visa, which means that it allows visa holders to enter the U.S. with the intention of becoming green card holders. This makes the overall process of becoming a permanent resident easier. And it also means that H-1B visa holders can travel internationally with a pending green card application without intent issues.
- Visa portability
Although getting your first H-1B can be challenging, transferring to a new company on an H-1B is easy. H-1B transfer petitions are simple and very rarely denied. Once you get your first H-1B, you can continue working on the H-1B for the next six years as long as you have a company willing to sponsor you for a qualified role.
Final Thoughts: H-1B Benefits and Advantages
As you consider the advantages of having an H-1B visa, remember that you don't have to navigate the complex U.S. immigration landscape alone. Whether you're a company that just found the perfect hire, an international student applying for your first H-1B with a new company, or a startup founder navigating immigration, we're here to help. Reach out to us today, and we'll help you get the H-1B process started.