Translated by
2020/06/23 14:16:27

Working visas in the USA

This article contains the facts about working visas of the USA. In more detail about visas of the USA here.


Visas of H1B

The American working visa of H1B is a visa of the foreign tourist which allows the American company to employ the foreign worker for a period of up to six years (June, 2017). Filing of application on not the immigration visa is usually carried out quicker, than filing of application on the American Green card. H1-B enjoys popularity as it is easier to receive it, than the immigration visa.

Quotas for H1B-visas

Working visas of H1B are subordinated to annual quotas. In 2012 the U.S. Government issued 129,000 H-1B of visas. More than all visas natives of India received.

For 2018 the quota makes 85 thousand places.

Who is given H1B-visas

The visa of H1B is developed for entry into the country of specialists who will take the jobs requiring specialized knowledge. It is necessary that degree of the bachelor was followed also by experience on this specialty (this requirement can be applied in the presence of 3-year degree and 3 years of the experience corresponding to specialty after completion of study).

The person without the higher education can be employed by the visa of H1B in the USA if he is able to confirm that he is the specialist equivalent to diplomaed, on the basis of experience of twelve or more years in a certain industry of occupations.

Only employers can request H1B-visas

People cannot individually receive a working visa of H1B for work in the USA. The entrepreneur wishing to employ the immigrating person should submit the application on entrance of the applicant.

The American entrepreneurs can begin to request the visa of H-1B in six months prior to actual start date of action of the visa. Entrepreneurs can submit applications for a working visa of H-1B right after April 1 for the visa for financial year which begins on October 1, but the working visa will not be able to be issued before October 1.

The legislation of a working visa of H1B requires that the certain employers called "employers, sponsoring the worker by the visa of H1B" advertized an empty seat of work within the USA before filing of application on receiving a working visa of H1B for the worker who on the arrival in the USA will take this workplace.

The employers sponsoring a working visa of H1B for the worker because of a boundary can be those entrepreneurs as a part of whose employees of firms there are no more than 15% of the workers who arrived in the USA on a working visa of H1B. Besides, on the visa of H1B and the first prolongation of the visa it is necessary to pay 1,000 U.S. dollars for new petitions (in addition to normal payments for visa processing) which will be used on financing of the training program of permanent American workers.

The company which brought H1B serving in the USA on a working visa should dismiss him before end of validity period of the visa. The company is responsible for any reasonable costs to which the employee is exposed in movement back of the last permanent residence. This condition belongs only to the certain set costs at dismissal of the worker.

Validity period of the visa and Green Card

The initial visa can be received for a period of up to three years. It can be prolonged for the first time for two years, then for one year. Thus, the maximum possible validity period of the visa makes 6 years. Those who wish to remain in the USA more than for 6 years, in the presence of the valid visa of H1B can ask permission to the permanent residence (Green Card). If such employees do not receive the permanent residence at end of the six-year period, they should be outside the USA within, at least, one year before filing of application on the visa of type H or L.

Immigration reform of 2013

Since summer of 2012 in the U.S. Government the project of immigration reform which should simplify obtaining green cards and labor visas of H1-B to the immigrants moving to the USA for work in the technical industry is discussed. With attraction of labor power from abroad it is going to fill the shortage of qualified personnel with which release the American universities do not cope.

In May, 2013 the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary by 13 voices against 5 approved an extensive packet of bills of change of a visa regime for entry into the USA for the purpose of job search. Bills are approved by Committee with the important amendment weakening restrictions for the companies wishing to invite vysokvalifitsirovanny employees from abroad by the labor visa of H1-B. The amendment was made by representatives of both American batches - the democrat Charles Sumer (Charles Schumer) and the republican Orrin Hatch. According to the original bill concerning H1-B, the limit on the number of the visas issued by the USA in one year made 65,000. Now this quantity is tripled almost - from 65,000 to 180,000.

The current version, besides, removes a part of requirements to the American companies employing foreign engineers and programmers. Initially the bill provided that employers have the right to invite the employee foreigner by the labor visa only if will manage to prove that on this position there was no suitable candidate from among citizens of the USA.

Now this requirement is removed for an essential part of the American companies. Prove that the vacancy at first was offered the American candidates, it is necessary only to those companies where foreigners make more than 15% of the state - so-called "dependent on H1-B" (the term entered by Service of nationality and immigration of the USA in 2000).

"The compromise of Sumer-Hetcha" as the American press calls the amendment, lifted one more limit of the original bill: before the company which refused the place to the American employee it was prohibited to submit the application on issue of visa of H1-B to the foreigner within 90 days. Thanks to the amendment, now it does not extend to the companies in which less than 15% of foreign employees are employed.

The amendment marks a large victory of the American technology sector which is actively lobbying changes of the immigration law and so actively protesting against any restrictions complicating hiring. Silicon Valley claims that introduction of additional restrictions on hiring of engineers and programmers slows down growth and the innovative development of the American IT-Business[1].

New guide to issue of visas of H1B of 2017

In April, 2017 the Service of nationality and immigration of the USA (USCIS) issued the new guide to issue of working visas of H1-B in which toughened requirements to applicants of the visa. From now on the programmers wishing to work in the USA according to the H1-B program should prove that they are actually programmers. Changes will cause increase in a packet of the filed documents and the general bureaucratization of the procedure, The Times of India wrote.

The new management became effective on the eve of the draw 85 thousand visas for 2018. It was expected that it will strike first of all IT specialists of the Indian origin and the outsourcing companies which employ them, type TCS, Infosys and Wipro.

The management cancels action of the document under the name "Instruction about Jobs of H1-B Connected with the Computer". The instruction was made by Terry Way who was the director of the Service center for request processing of H1-B in Nebraska. The document became effective in December, 2000 USCIS considers that it does not reflect the policy of department in a visa question any more.

The Wei's instruction was based on the Reference book of professional perspectives of the USA in edition of 1998-1999 and 2000-2001. Many professions connected with computers endured at that time a transient period, and in general the system of IT specialties by 2017 considerably changed, USCIS considers. The Wei's instruction required that the applicant of H1-B provided the bachelor's degree or is higher on one of the specialties specified in the Reference book of professional perspectives. USCIS considers that it is not enough therefore from now on the applicant of H1-B should provide others, in addition to the diploma, the proof that the degree received by it "in computer sciences" really belongs to programming.

The Wei's instruction does not do special differences between the work directly connected with writing and testing of the code, and auxiliary IT specializations at all. Because of it applicants of H1-B who have degree of the junior specialist (below the bachelor) could apply for the work of any complexity including connected directly with programming. USCIS is going to put it an end, having carried out accurate differentiation between jobs of "the entrance level" and positions which require a certain qualification. In the first case work will not be considered as visa IT specialty at all, and in the second case the bachelor's degree will be necessary above.

So to receive the visa, the applicant should prove that his future work more "difficult, specialized and unique" in comparison with other work in the same industry. A certain wage level which is offered to it by the employer can be one of such proofs. Also the candidate will have to describe the level of complexity of the job responsibilities, concentration degree at their accomplishment, the level of judgments which removal is required by work, and extent of understanding of workflow. And to prove that all this is more difficult and more necessary, than other occupations in the same industry.

Review of an order of issue of visa of H1-B is accomplishment of election pledge of the president Donald Trump who intends to return to Americans the jobs taken by foreign IT specialists. The presidential decree which changed the principles of distribution of H-1B between applicants was issued in January, 2017. The management of USCIS implemented basic provisions of this decree.

Perhaps, in the future other changes also will be made to an order of issue of visas. During the pre-election company Trump, together with senator Jeff Sessions, prepared the bill which had to increase considerably the cost of the visa of H-1B to applicants.

Acting in February, 2016 in the State of Alabama, Trump provided audiences of two former employees of IT department of Disney company whom the management replaced with foreigners. DeNA Moore and Leo Perrero told attendees that before dismissal they were forced to train the reliefs who arrived by the visa of H-1B.

In January, 2016 these employees submitted a claim against Disney and two IT outsourcers — HCL and Cognizant, accusing them of conspiring to the purpose of dismissal of American workers. The claim was cancelled by Federal court of the USA. However in December, 2016 against Disney one more claim in which former employees of IT department accused the company of discrimination on national and racial signs was submitted.

According to claimants, in October, 2014 the management of Disney began to implement the plan for involvement of the outsourcing companies for implementation of a number of IT processes. After that the list of IT specialists at offices Disney significantly changed – the number of workers from the Southern Asia increased. With respect thereto in January, 2015 about 250 IT specialists of Disney were dismissed[2].

Visa of H2B

For June, 2017 the programmer can work in the USA and by the non-immigrant visa of H2-B. It is issued for one year, can be prolonged up to three years. Its inconvenience is that at a design the certificate, confirmatory is required that workers from the USA do not apply for a required position. Obtaining such certificate – labor-intensive process.

STEM visas

In September, 2012 Lamar Smith (Lamar Smith), the member of the House of Representatives of the U. S. Congress from the State of Texas and the leading legislator concerning immigration, had to approve the bill entering special STEM visas to participants of a lottery of green cards. Visas in the USA to specialists who have academic degrees in so-called "STEM areas" (Science, Technology, Engineering, Matematics). Under the new law carrying the name STEM Jobs Act, the first 55,000 visas participating in a diversification lottery will be purposefully issued to the participants having technical education.

The applicant for the STEM visa should have the doctor's degree or degree of the master of technical science awarded by the American university. The remote education got on the Internet is allowed, however at its receiving the participant should be present at the USA physically.

Some holders of academic degrees will not be considered. Only the specialists who earned degrees of the doctor or the master at the universities which are officially accredited to issue of degrees and conducting vigorous research activity are allowed to participation in a draw of STEM visas. It is made not to allow "factories of diplomas" to profit on the program.

The priority at issue of visas is given to specialists who have doctor's degrees. The remained unused visas will be distributed between participants with the master's degree.

In September, 2012 it was supposed that employers should petition for the visa on behalf of candidates. The employer from the USA who wants to employ the foreign citizen and to receive for him the green card, should pass through process of labor certification to prove that to the corresponding position there are no qualified candidates from among citizens of the USA. The invited employee who received the visa will have to work at least 5 years on this employer or in the adjacent technical area[3].

The list of the employers inviting technical specialists in the USA by the STEM visa will be openly published on the website of Department of national security of the USA. The department will also keep the list of the foreigners who received STEM visas with transfer of their professions.

For acceptance the bill of the STEM visa had to be approved by both batches — republican and democratic. In a democratic part of the Congress, there were concerns that the new law can conflict to other regulations of the immigration law — in particular, to the law DREAM Act of 2001 under which issue of the residence permit to the foreigners receiving academic degrees in colleges of the USA is at the moment performed.

The Republican Party advancing the law, in turn got extensive support of the technology and scientific sector. Heads of 165 American universities, including Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, signed the open letter in support of the bill STEM.

Supporters of the STEM legislation claim that technical specialists with scientific degree are in demand around the world, and the United States fight for them. STEM Jobs Act will become the next option which offers the USA to attract qualified personnel in the technology industry — on an equal basis with the visa H-1B program according to which for September, 2012 20,000 time working visas are available to the immigrants who received scientific degrees at the universities of the USA.

L-1 visa

The visa of L1 of the United States is a working visa for foreign tourists which allows the companies working as in the USA and to abroad transfer certain classes of employees to work to the USA for a period of up to 7 years. The employee had to work in branch or office of the American company out of the USA within at least one year within the previous three years.

The companies working in the USA can address to local branch of management of immigration and naturalization of the USA (BCIS) behind a working visa of L1 to transfer the worker to the USA from foreign office. Serving in this category, originally, will provide a working visa of L-1 for a period of up to three years.

Workers who can receive a working visa of L1:


Legal determination of management and executive roles are for this purpose very strict, and the detailed description of the duties connected with accomplishment of job duties in this workplace is required. In particular, the head or the manager should control and bear responsibility for actions of professional staff and/or for key function, department or division of the entrepreneur. Such personnel receive the visa of L1A, originally for the three-year period with the prolongation right for a period of up to 7 years.

It is specialized - educated workers

This category includes the workers acquainted with products and company services, researches, systems, special technologies, management and production. Workers from this section can receive a working visa of L1B originally for the three-year period with the right of prolongation of the visa for a period of up to 5 years.

At end of the maximum allowed period, according to the status of the visa L-1, the employee will have to work in branch of a company out of the United States of America at least one year until as the new statement on the status L or H will be made.

Influence of visas on economic processes

2019: The number of failures in the USA grew by working visas by 9 times. The IT companies open offices in Canada and Mexico

By the end of May, 2019 the number of failures in the USA grew by issue of working visas of H-1B by 9 times. Canada and Mexico became the centers of alternative development for the companies providing IT services, but these are only temporary measures, and the complex problem which rose before employers requires the long-term and reliable solution.

Donald Trump's protest against issue of visas of H-1B had a radical impact on business models of the Indian IT firms. Failure ratio in issue of working visas for 6 leading companies (TCS, Wipro, Infosys, Tech Mahindra, Cognizant and HCL Technologies) in 2015 on average fluctuated within 4%. However during the period from September, 2018 to April, 2019 this indicator flew up up to 36%. Even the global IT companies, such as Accenture and Deloitte with the built-in offshore models, suffered because of dependence on working visas.

In May, 2019 the Trump's administration started process of deprivation of work authorizations for spouses of owners of the American working visas of H-1B

Toughening of the criteria used for issue of visa of H-1B, in-depth examination of candidates and their qualifications and also visits on working platforms – all this promoted sharp reduction of issue of visas and forced IT heads to look for new methods of service of the clients in the USA (components to 60-70% of their business).

One of positive changes for the American specialists in the field of technologies is the fact that these changes forced the IT companies to train and employ the American citizens actively. Almost all large IT companies opened the innovation centers and campuses and employed tens of thousands of candidates.

But all this does not solve a gap problem between an average and senior link yet. Kotak Institutional Equities Research submitted the report according to which talented specialists of initial level are necessary and available, but they cannot participate in a stage of knowledge transfer or initiation of projects. In other words, for optimal work specialists of an average and the top management – experienced consulting engineers who can direct flexible commands are required. However they are not just among those specialists, it is authorized to them to work in the USA.

One of options of immediate solution – to transfer offices to Canada and Mexico to involve talented specialists from there. For example, Tech Mahindra announced that it will create the center of advanced technologies in Canada, having invested in it $100 million. The same way, the Hexaware IT mid-size company stated that it will use the Mexican center for customer service from the USA.

Outsourcing to the neighboring countries seriously affects operating expenses of the company, but it is the best option after outsourcing from India. Besides, TN the visa to the Mexican and Canadian skilled workers is the valuable tool using which the IT companies can involve new employees, without encumbering itself with strict requirements of H-1B of cards.

In 2019 issue of visas of H-1B is performed on the changed order. Earlier separate two quotas were selected: the first - under foreign workers with the higher education (65 thousand people), the second – under graduates of the American colleges with degree of the master and PhD (20 thousand people). Since April 1 of this year there is no such separation any more

But also there are restrictions. In spite of the fact that outsourcing in the neighboring countries allows to look for easily specialists, engineers who go to the USA on a working visa are not allowed to perform any profitable work in the USA. In other words, the support on outsourcing in the neighboring countries cannot become the long-term solution of the current crisis.

It means that at the moment the IT companies which rely on employee involvement with visas of H-1B to project implementation will have to look for new business methods. As set an example to Accenture, even IT leading still substantially rely on an offshore component. A question only in how long they will be able to cover the high expenses connected with failures in issue of H-1B without prejudice to the provided services.[4]

2018: Trump against IT outsourcers. Issue of working visas fell in the USA to a minimum of 7 years

In April, 2018 it became known of decrease in number of the visas of H-1B issued in the USA to a minimum of 7-year. Foreign (mainly Indian) IT and outsourcing companies first of all suffer because of it.

The president Donald Trump suggested to review the program of distribution of time working visas which were provided to highly-skilled employees from abroad. Statements of the American leader do not provide immediate changes in an order of issue of working visas, however Trump urges the relevant state bodies to study the current legislation and to state recommendations about its review.

In April, 2018 it became known of decrease in number of the visas of H-1B issued in the USA to a minimum of 7-year

Separate instructions concern the non-immigrant visa of H-1B which allows educated foreign specialists - mainly in the IT sphere - to work in the USA up to six years in a row at positions which did not manage to be closed local workers. Owners of the visa of H-1B can even submit the application for permanent residence in the USA. The application for the visa should be sponsored by the employer. He signs agreements with banks, the medical companies and other enterprises for the solution of different tasks in the IT sphere.

Earlier, in 2015, the then president of the USA Barack Obama expanded action of the program, having allowed spouses of foreign specialists to work also in the USA. However Donald Trump suggested to consider changes according to which visas will be issued only to the most educated and highly paid migrants.

According to Service of nationality and immigration of the USA (USCIS), in 2017 the working visa of H-1B was received by a little more than 197 thousand people (the lowest indicator since 2010), and statements were rejected in 80% of cases – usually this share made only 60%. From January 1 to April 7, 2018 190,098 visa application forms of H-1B were submitted that is 10 thousand less, than for the same period of previous year.

The next stage – a lottery, following the results 65 thousand specialists with the bachelor's degree and 20 thousand more foreign students who ended a magistracy will be selected. The release of the new decree of Trump will cause a bigger recession of a flow of statements. Special concern in connection with these measures the IT companies - Wipro stated, TCS, to Infosys - and media in India, natives from where are about 70% of owners of visas. Representatives of the IT companies say that restriction of entrance of highly educated migrants will strike a hard blow to the sphere of high technologies.

Maintaining these measures is caused by abuse in the field of issue of visas which are provided to the poorly educated workers ready to work for the smaller salary, than the American citizens. Besides, specialists state concerns concerning structural changes of the American labor power; in particular, many IT workers who got an education in the USA cannot get the starting experience necessary for an exit to more difficult technical positions as they are forced out by foreign specialists.

However, there is a probability that the measures entered by the president will not affect balance of labor powers: according to a research of National fund of the American policy, reduction of an annual limit of issue of H-1B in 2004 did not promote increase in a share of the employees born in the USA. Instead the entered measures just lowered a share of highly qualified foreign specialists whom the economy of the USA desperately needed – and as a result the competition in the industries and product quality fell.

However the Trump's position - not the only factor influencing issue of H-1B. The matter is that the IT sphere does not need simple infrastructure maintenance any more. Now highly educated specialists in the field of artificial intelligence, robotics and mobile applications are in demand. This model requires much less labor power, than former.

Besides, the Indian IT system quickly reacted to these changes, employing the corresponding specialists in the USA – they not only have necessary skills, but also are ready to be customer oriented. Perhaps, the IT sphere and migration services should review completely requirements to issue of visas that highly qualified specialists from the USA and other countries could work effectively together, writes the ZDNet edition.[5]

2017: Reduction of set of foreigners in Silicon Valley

In August, 2017 it became known that the companies from Silicon Valley began to gather much less in staff of foreigners because of immigration policy of the president USA Donald Trump.

According to the Financial Times edition with reference to recruiting service Hired (specializes in IT specialties; collects data more than from 10 thousand companies), in the second quarter 2017 the number of offers to have interviews in the companies of Silicon Valley for foreign specialists was reduced by 37% of rather same period of the 2016th. In the first quarter recession was measured by 46%.

Silicon Valley reduced set of foreigners because of immigration policy of Trump

In turn, the applicants who are not Americans began 4% less to respond to the requests from the technology companies from the USA.

The CEO of Hired Mehul Patel considers that employers are in "hover", being afraid that Donald Trump will reduce number of immigrants who can move to the USA. It aggravates already acute staff shortage in the IT industry.

Such uncertainty results in some helplessness — the expert notes. t

At the beginning of August, 2017 Trump submitted the bill RAISE changing the principles of an immigration system of the USA — it becomes qualification when the strong preference at immigration is given to the educated, highly skilled people who are well speaking English. The bill will lead to the wages rise of the American workers, having reduced inflow of unskilled migrants. 

According to Patel, experienced specialists look for both giants of the IT industry, and startups whose activity is financed by venture capitalists. The companies even more often select on several candidates for one position, in advance assuming that part of them will leave to competitors.[6]

2016: Rise in price of working visas. India raises the prices of IT services

On January 12, 2016 it became known of intentions of the Indian IT outsourcers to raise the prices of the services in response to value addition of working visas in the United States which are the largest market for the technology companies from India.

In December, 2015 the U. S. Congress adopted the bill of doubling of expenses on payment of short-term visas of H1B and L1 to foreign workers.

The risen in price visas in the USA force the Indian IT companies to raise the prices of the services

Annually Indian outsourcing companies send to the USA thousands of employees for work on places and generate about three quarters of the revenue there. Taking into account innovations in the American immigration policy the Indian IT companies will lose $400 million, counted in National association of the software and IT services (National Association of Software and Services Companies, Nasscom).

As investors told Reuters agency to compensate the additional losses registered in India IT outsourcers will increase the cost of the services for clients and will begin to work more with them far off. By estimates of investors, increase in expenses on working visas in the USA will lead to decrease in a profit margin of such IT companies as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys, on 50-60 basis points.

The chief specialist on investments of IDBI Federal Life Insurance Aneesh Srivastava says that pay increase of processing of visa to the USA is a problem for the Indian companies, but they can pay back a part of costs by review of conditions of contracts and at the expense of strong dollar.

The grown visa fee is groundless as it disproportionately strongly beats business of the Indian firms. Immigration reform in the USA happens sooner or later, the president of Nasscom R. R. Chandrasekhar said.

At the same time analysts say that the Indian technology companies will already send less employees to business trips as all of them pay more attention to digital services instead of projects of support of IT infrastructures on places and software developments.[7]


2020: Suspension of issue of working visas

On June 22, 2020 the U.S. President Donald Trump suspended issue of working visas on which in the country hundreds of thousands of IT specialists work. The decree of the American leader extends to visas of H-1B, H-2B, H-4, L-1 and some visas of J-1 — they will not be issued till December 31, 2020 (possibly prolongation of terms). It does not concern those who already are in the USA.

Temporary employees are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of which also compete with the American workers. In usual conditions correctly organized programs of time employment can bring benefit to economy. But in force majeure of the economic downturn caused by the outbreak of a coronavirus of COVID-19, some non-immigrant visa programs permitting such employment pose an unusual threat for employment of the American workers, says the White House.

Trump stopped issue of visas on which hundreds of thousands of IT specialists work

Several technology companies expressed a protest to this decree of Trump. So, in Amazon said what will lock on  entry  into the country and the help in recovery of the economy of the USA for  highly qualified specialists  threatens global competitiveness of the country.

Google noted that immigrants not only promoted technology breaks and creation of new businesses and jobs, but also enriched life of Americans.  America needs talents as it needs to recover economy, reports the The Verge edition with reference to the representative of corporation.

U.S. authorities, having suspended issue of working visas, intend to release jobs for the citizens. Americans will be saved from the competition to foreigners in the conditions of an economic crisis because of a pandemic. The White House noted that until the end of 2020 Americans will have choice from 525 thousand vacancies.[8]

See Also

United States of America (USA)