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Professional Work Visas: Both Sides of the Issue / Political Stands
Foreign professionals can come work in the U.S. to fill jobs that--according to the sponsoring employer--no American can fill. The high-tech industry wants more foreign workers at its disposal, possibly because these foreign workers are less "demanding" and harder working, given their desire to live in the States. American workers and their advocates want restrictions on these visas because they feel threatened and pushed aside by these foreign workers.
What is a Visa?
What is an H-1B Visa?
The employer must "sponsor" (apply for) this skilled worker, giving the reasons why this worker is the most qualified individual for the job, and paying the application fees.
What is an L-1 Visa?
High-tech employers and immigration attorneys are calling for lawmakers to raise the annual H-1B work visa limit ("cap") and to make L-1 visas easier to get as well. Recently, a (pro-visa) bill seeking to increase the H-1B cap was introduced. In addition, an (anti-visa) bill seeking to initiate a cap on L-1 visas (HR 2702), and a bill seeking to terminate the H-1B visa program altogether (HR 2688) have been introduced. But those in the know say that Congress is unlikely to be addressing these issues until late 2006, simply because they have "more important" issues on their plates.
For an H-1B Visa, employers must promise to pay equitable or prevailing wage, although various sources can be used to arrive at the number. Prevailing wage means the average wage most often paid to people in similar positions.
H-1B workers are often engineers, scientists or high-tech workers, but they do not have to be. Others can qualify for an H-1B if the employer demonstrates a need for that professional and that professional's specific trained/educated skills. Employers must also promise that hiring the H-1B worker will not negatively affect other workers. (Reduce their chances for challenge, benefits, raises, advancement or promotion, etc.).
There is an annual cap (limit) set on H-1B visas. Applications that do not get submitted before the cap is met will have to wait for the next fiscal year, which starts on October 1.
H-1B visas are one of the few visas which allow dual intent, meaning that H-1B applicants can have the intention of later immigrating and seeking permanent residence in the U.S. However, they have only six years to do this before they are required to return home, because an individual can only hold an H-1B (or any combination of H-1B's for different jobs) for up to six consecutive years.
H-1B and L Visas Count Toward the Same Limits
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