To sponsor an employee on an H-1B visa, before even submitting an application to USCIS, an employer must file a Labor Condition Application. They must include supporting documents in order to show the employee’s qualifications for the work and that the employment won’t hurt conditions for other U.S. workers. Finally, they must offer the person a job with a market-rate salary and continue to employ them for as long as they’re in the United States. What is H-1B status? The H-1B program is a visa program that allows skilled workers to live in the United States legally while they work. The program is meant for work requiring at least a bachelor’s degree or higher, although not all of the workers who come under the program have an advanced degree. When a business needs workers to fill specialty occupations, they can file to bring employees to the United States under H-1B status. How to apply To sponsor an employee, the employer starts by filing what’s called a Labor Condition Application. In this document, they must show that they’re going to pay the worker a prevailing wage. They must also show that working conditions for the potential employee are similar to working conditions for similarly situated U.S. workers. Once the U.S. government approves the Labor Condition Application, the employer completes and files form I-129. This is a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. There are fees to pay and supporting documents that must accompany this petition. When officials approve form I-129, the worker can begin at a new position. If they’re already present in the United States, they can start work immediately. If not, they can apply for their H-1B visa and use it to lawfully enter the country. What types of occupations count? Some of the specialty occupations that qualify include scientists, mathematicians, doctors and other health care providers, accountants, lawyers, artists, IT and finance professional and many others. The program is meant for individuals with high levels of skill and knowledge in their field. One notable exception to the bachelor’s degree as a typical qualification standard is fashion models. They just have to show that they’re distinguished in merit and skills. An immigration lawyer can help you understand if a particular field or profession qualifies to take part in the program. How long do they stay? Generally, an H-1B employee starts with an approval of visa for up to three years. Then they can apply for an extension for another three years. In some cases, there are exceptions that allow them to stay for even longer periods. If the H-1B employee is present in the United States for long enough, they can apply for permanent resident status. To remain lawfully in the United States, the employee must continue to work for the employer that sponsors them. If they work for multiple employers, both employers must apply for the employee. An immigration lawyer can help you or your company to determine what forms are necessary if multiple employers are involved. If an employee’s status changes, they typically have a 60-day grace period to allow them to apply for a change in status. Despite this time limitation, the U.S. government may give the employee as long as it takes to complete a timely application for a green card, but it’s important to work with an immigration attorney to make changes as quickly as possible. What about family? If you’re coming to the United States under the H-1B program, your spouse and minor children (under 21 years old) can come too. However, they need to complete paperwork of their own. An immigration attorney can work with you to complete this request. You and your spouse may apply for a driver’s license, and your children may attend public school in the U.S.