by Elizabeth R. Blandon

April 1st is the magic date for employers wishing to bring a foreigner to work in the United States or wishing to hire one who is already in the country. About 60,000 openings become available for foreigners that day. If approved, they can work temporarily (beginning on October 1st) for a maximum of six years or even longer if certain exceptions apply. Because the slots fill quickly and the case takes time to prepare, employers should decide sooner rather than later whether they will need to hire some help.

Who may work? The foreigners will work in a category known as H-1B, which is set aside for persons with university degrees or the equivalent amount of work experience. If more employers apply than openings are available, the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS, formerly INS) holds a lottery to determine whether a case will be reviewed. When a case is not reviewed, CIS returns the entire package including the immigration fees. The filings for 2009 were lower than in the recent past due to the country’s economic recession. Fortunately, this means the chances of approval are higher.

What does the employer need to do? The employer must be able to demonstrate a need for someone with a bachelor’s degree. For example, the position cannot be secretarial because CIS will claim that a secretary does not need a bachelor’s degree. However, an office manager overseeing other employees would need a university degree. Using tax returns and other financials, the employer must also demonstrate the ability to pay the wage which the Department of Labor states is the prevailing salary for someone in that position. An employer is not permitted to hire a foreigner for a lower salary than it would pay a U.S. worker.

What does the employee need to do? The employee must be able to prove her education and experience. Blandon Law firm will use evidence including a resume, transcripts of all classes taken, degrees and certificates to prove the foreigner’s qualifications.

The information provided here is not legal advice.