Foreign national teachers and professors who wish to teach and enrich students in the U.S., have a variety of viable visa options to choose from.
Here we present a snapshot of one of the most popular US visa for teachers – the H1B Visa.
H1B Visa For Teachers
The H1B visa program allows U.S. businesses to employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations. The Immigration and Nationality Act defines specialty occupation as “an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States”. Most professional positions will qualify as a specialty occupation.
Primary and secondary school teachers as well as college and seminary teachers/professors fall within the definition of ‘specialty occupation’, and as such are eligible to seek the H1B visa.
A. H1B For Teachers – Eligibility Conditions
In order to be eligible to seek an H1B visa for teachers, the following important conditions, among others, must be satisfied:
1.A bachelor’s degree, or higher, or its equivalent, must normally be the minimum requirement for entry into the teaching position at the educational institution.
2.The foreign national teacher must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent in a field related to the proffered position. The foreign national’s education must be the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree. In evaluating a foreign degree, the regulations permit consideration of their experience, by substituting 3 years of relevant, progressive experience in the field as equivalent of one year of college.
3.The foreign national teacher must possess the requisite license in jurisdictions or institutions where it is required. If the foreign national is unable to obtain licensure before coming to the U.S. or obtaining a social security number, he or she may be able to present documentation from the licensing board showing that he or she has met all of the requirements for the license but for status in the U.S. or a social security number.
4.Before submitting the H1B petition to USCIS, the institution/employer must apply for and obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor. By filing the LCA, the employer attests, among other things, that:
a.they will pay the employee/teacher wages which are at least the actual wages paid to others with similar experience and qualifications or the prevailing wage in the area of employment, whichever is higher
b.they will provide to the foreign national teacher working conditions that will not adversely affect the working conditions of U.S. teachers similarly employed in the area.
B. H1B For Teachers – Period of Admission And Dependents
Foreign nationals, including teachers, may be admitted for an initial period of up to three years under the H1B visa classification. The period of admission may be extended up to an additional three years, for a maximum of six years. Generally, the H1B visa is limited to a total of six years unless certain conditions are met.
The spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an H1B visa holder may seek admission under the H-4 visa.
DID YOU KNOW?
If there is no Consulate in your home country of nationality which issues visas, the Secretary of State has designated a third country where those individuals can apply for a new visa.
C. H1B Cap
There is an annual 65,000 numerical cap for H1Bs known as the “H1B cap”. When submitting the application, the employer must be sure that the cap is still open, i.e., the numerical limit has not been reached for the present fiscal year.
USCIS’ fiscal year goes from October 1 to September 30 of each year. Since an H1B petition can be submitted no earlier than six months before the start date of employment, the earliest a petition can be filed is April 1 of the previous fiscal year.
As an example, in order for a teacher to obtain an H1B visa and start working on October 1, 2017, an H1B petition can be filed no earlier than April 1, 2017.
DID YOU KNOW?
The regulations do provide exemptions to the numerical H1B cap.
The foreign national may be exempt from the H1B cap if:
1.the foreign national will be employed:
a.at an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity or
b.at a nonprofit or governmental research organization
2.the foreign national has previously been counted towards the H1B cap and have not exhausted the maximum 6 years
Timing is an important factor to consider when evaluating the option of H1B for teachers.
Our experienced attorneys review the employment start date at the education institutions, and develops appropriate strategies to meet them.
If you have any questions regarding the H1B visa for teachers, or need help in filing a US work visa for teachers, contact our experienced immigration attorneys immediately for a FREE Immigration Consultation.
We’ll analyze your specific situation and recommend the most effective strategy based on our attorneys’ near 100% success rate.
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