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:
- The school district/educational institution is a not for profit entity.
- 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:
- Determine where teachers, researchers, and professors are needed.
- Determine whether U.S. teachers, researchers, and professors are not available to satisfy those labor shortages.
- Identify foreign teachers, researchers, and professors who can meet the school’s needs.
- 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.