Employers in California who wish to hire foreign nationals for specialized positions might find themselves jumping through hoops as they attempt to obtain the proper documentation for immigration. Unfortunately, potential employees cannot help in this matter as employers need to apply for them.

The H-1B visa is reserved for educated individuals who have bachelor’s degrees or higher and are looking to obtain positions in professional fields such as engineering, architecture, medicine and science. Those positions are in demand as are the visas; however, H-1B visas are capped, and there are more applicants than visas. 85,000 H-1B visas are available as of 2017, and 20,000 of those are reserved for people who received advanced degrees within the U.S. Employers can start applying for H-1B visas as early as six months prior to the anticipated employment commencement date. The employees must not only be highly specialized workers; they must also meet stringent educational, licensing, certification and training criteria.

The H-1B visa does not designate permanent residency although H-1B visa holders may opt to obtain permanent residency via green cards. Also, dependents of H-1B visa holders may live in the U.S., but in most cases, they may not be employed. However, they can open bank accounts and attend school.

Because the H-1B visa is good for up to six years, employers looking for long-term professional employees prefer them although the cap might force them to apply for other types of visas even though they may not be the best fit. Those who do not meet the requirements or who do not meet the cap for H-1B visas can apply for other visas such as the H-2B and L-1B. However, each kind of visa has its own qualifications for entry into the U.S., making it confusing for the companies who wish to hire applicants from outside of the country.

Businesses looking to hire foreign nationals might be intimidated by the process of applying for visas. Business owners or their human resource managers may benefit from speaking with an immigration attorney who may help them understand and move through the process.