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Business Immigration Zone (BIZ): 2018 H-1B Visas for Students, Researchers, and Educators

February 01, 2018

School districts and educational institutions may use H-1B visas to employ teachers, researchers, and university professors. The first step for students, researchers, and professors filing for new H-1B visa petitions is to determine whether an H-1B petition is subject to the annual cap or if it is exempt.

For example, each year, 65,000 H-1B visas may be awarded, with 20,000 reserved for foreign nationals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Although, certain school districts and educational institutions can be exempt from these annual limits. To qualify for cap exemption, a school district or educational institution generally must prove:

  1. The school district/educational institution is a not for profit entity.
  2. The school district/educational institution has an affiliation agreement with a university.

Teachers in H-1B status who wish to transfer to a new school district or educational institution may file for a change of employer petition. In these cases, transferring H-1B teachers would not likely be subject to annual caps.

H-1B visas are issued for an initial maximum period of three years and extensions may be obtained for up to an additional three years creating a total maximum period of six years. The actual period of initial admission and any extensions depend on the employer’s stated need. Although H-1B visas are temporary, H-1B visa holders may petition for lawful permanent resident status and work for employers long-term.

To prepare for this year’s H-1B season school districts and educational institutions should:

  1. Determine where teachers, researchers, and professors are needed.
  2. Determine whether U.S. teachers, researchers, and professors are not available to satisfy those labor shortages.
  3. Identify foreign teachers, researchers, and professors who can meet the school’s needs.
  4. Initiate the H-1B visa process for foreign teachers, researchers, and professors.

With only two months left to apply, the April 1, 2018 deadline for H-1B visa petitions will be here soon. If last year was any indication, now is the time to prepare H-1B petitions as the H-1B cap likely will be reached by April 8, 2018. Employers should begin to focus their attention on evaluating labor needs in order to be prepared to compete for a limited supply of visas.

For help during the 2018 H-1B season, please contact Brandon Davis.