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H-1B Visa for Teachers

A friendly teacher

H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits a company to hire workers in specialty occupations .  This visa category requires that the beneficiary (the foreign worker) have at least a Bachelor’s degree, and the petitioner (the U.S. company) can employ the worker for up to six years.

Can teacher qualify for an H-1b visa?

Yes, a teacher can qualify for an H-1b visa if he/she has at least a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in relevant field (Education). The process and how long it will take to get the petition adjudicated will depend on whether the sponsoring employer is a cap-exempt or cap-subject employer.

Two types of H-1b Employers

There are two types of H-1b employers.

i) Cap-exempt employer:

Cap-exempt employer is either:

Institution of higher education is usually defined as educational institution that admits as regular  only persons having a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such a certificate and that provides an educational program for which the institution awards a Bachelor’s degree or provides not less than a 2-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward such a degree. You can find the full definition of institution of higher education here. In the H1b visa context, this would be for example an H1b visa for a university professor.

The advantage of a cap-exempt employer sponsoring you for the H-1b visa is that they can file the H-1b petition for you at any time throughout the year (e.g. if the employer wants to sponsor you for the H1b visa in June, they can file the H1b petition in June and the employers do not have to go through the H1b visa lottery). On the other hand, cap-subject employers have to go through the H-1B visa lottery.

ii) Cap-subject employers & H-1b visa lottery

If the U.S. employer does not meet the definition of a cap-exempt employer (see above), then the employer will need to go through the process of so-called H-1b Lottery. The H-1b Lottery system opens every year in March, and the government usually runs the H-1b Lottery at the end of March. This is because each year the government can only issue 85,000 H-1b visas but each year many more H-1b registrations are received. The employers would usually know at the end of March/beginning of April whether their H1b registration was selected in the lottery and whether they can go ahead and file the H1b petition. If the employer misses the registration window to file the H-1b registration, he would need to wait another whole year until next March to be able to file the H-1b registration again.

Please note that just because the H1b registration is selected in the lottery does not mean that USCIS will approve the petition – the selection in the lottery merely gives the employer opportunity to file the H1b petition and USCIS will then make a decision whether the H1b requirements are met.

Please note that there may be other visa/green card options available for you other than the H-1b visa (for example, if you are Canadian or Mexican national, you could apply for a TN visa if you are applying as a Teacher at College/University).

What documents are needed for the H1b visa from the employee?

The most important documents that are needed from the employee are the educational documents (the degree and transcripts showing that the employee has a degree in the relevant field). If the employee’s degree is not from a US university, the employee will also need to get a Credentials evaluation that will need to analyze whether the foreign degree is equivalent to a US degree.

Other documents that are needed from the employee are for example a copy of passport and previous US visa documents if the employee previously lived in the U.S.

If the petition is selected in the lottery, what is the earliest start date for the h1b employee?

If the H-1b registration is selected in the lottery and the H-1b petition is approved by USCIS, the earliest the employee is able to start is October 1 (for example, if the H1b registration was filed in March 2023, then the earliest start date would be October 1, 2023).

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