The H-1B visa class is a viable option for primary, secondary or college teachers with the required knowledge and training. H-1B visa offers foreign professionals the ability to work temporarily in the United States as long as they hold specialty occupations. For an H-1B visa for teachers, the exact requirements and eligibility conditions are noted below.
Position Specifications–H-1B for Teachers
Based on the requirements outlined by the USCIS, in order to qualify the teacher must meet these conditions:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher for entry into the teaching position at the institution. A primary school teacher, for example, may not need the same level of degree as a college/university professor. Again, this is not a one size fits all case so check with an attorney about H-1B for teachers in your district.
- For foreign degrees, it must be the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree. Meaning that three full years of relevant experience is equivalent to one year of education toward a bachelor’s degree. Your degree may also be subject to evaluation.
- Possess any required licenses or permissions to work within that educational sector. If the foreign worker has not procured the license prior to arriving in the country, they may have the ability to demonstrate that they meet all the conditions for licensing.
- The educational institution or employer is required to submit an LCA from the Department of Labor. This is to guarantee that the foreign worker will be paid at minimum the wages paid to domestic workers with parallel qualifications/ experience and/or the prevailing wage in the geographic area. Also, the Labor Condition Application is to ensure that the by employing the foreign teacher, it will not negatively impact the conditions of U.S. teachers.
Cap Exemption Requirements
The regular H-1B 2018 cap is broken down by the regular quota, masters degree quota and other (citizens of Singapore and Chile). However, some employers are capable of filing cap-exempt petitions. These include:
- Institutes of higher education
- Governmental research centers
- Nonprofit entities affiliated with institutes of higher education or governmental research centers
In certain scenarios, however, a school district may qualify as a nonprofit entity and be permitted to file a cap-exempt petition for an H-1B for teachers.
The following points are most useful for school district administrators who are interested in filing an H-1B petition for teachers. To demonstrate that you are qualified to file a cap-exempt petition for a teacher not holding H-1B status in the last six years, the USCIS requires the following:
- The district is a not for profit organization
- Received approval under the numerical cap exemption since 2006
- There must be an Affiliation Agreement with a university and it must be submitted along with a copy of the I-797 Approval notice (previous cap exemption) when filing the new H-1B petition
Individuals in the United States that were already counted against the cap in the previous six years may perform a variety of actions since they are exempt from the cap. The USCIS may process petitions seeking amendments, a change of employer or an extension.
H-1B for Teachers: Transfer Districts
Often times, a teacher with H-1B status will wish to transfer to another school district which requires a transfer petition to be filed. In order for this to occur a few requirements must be fulfilled:
- The teacher on H-1B status who is desiring the transfer must have filed as cap-exempt through the University Affiliation at some point in the past. How can you prove this?
- The best way to submit proof of this is by providing Form I-129.
- The other way in which a teacher on H-1B status may transfer to a different district is by transitioning to a district that has been deemed exempt from the annual quota/cap. The requirements of such are noted above.
H-1B for teachers may vary greatly from one school district to another. We recommend scheduling a consultation with an immigration attorney to ensure you receive the most relevant advice.
H-1B for Teachers: Period of Stay
The period of stay on H-1B for teachers is the same length of time that other H-1B visa holders have. The initial period is three years and that can be extended an additional three years for a total of six years. Although it is sometimes possible to obtain further extensions in one-year increments in some cases.
What’s more, spouses and children may be eligible for H4 status which makes them eligible for other benefits including:
- EADs as part of Obama’s immigration reform
- Can attend school on H4 status and in some cases may be considered a resident in regards to tuition fees
- Have the freedom to change status
These are some of the benefits available to H4 status holders. To learn how an H-1B for teachers may affect your family members, consult an immigration professional.
Regular H-1B Cap
The annual cap for teachers and other H-1B status seekers is as follows (with the exception of those who are cap exempt):
- The regular quota currently stands at 65,000 based on figures from last year.
- The master’s degree quota is 20,000 and 6,800 are put aside for Singapore and Chile citizens.
H-1B Fees for Teachers
The fees associated with obtaining an H-1B visa for teachers are as follows:
- A basic filing fee of $460
- The ACWIA fee of $750 for employers with fewer than 25 employees and $1,500 for more than 25 employees.
- The Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of $500
- The Public Law 114-113 fee of $4,000 for employers that have a workforce of over 50 employees with at least half of them on H-1B status.
It is important to note that these fees must be paid by your employer by law. The ACWIA, Anti-Fraud, and Public Law fees are all one-time fees paid per employer per beneficiary. This means that these fees are not required for H-1B extensions or renewals, but will be required if you switch to a new employer. The basic filing fee is always applicable whenever an I-129 petition is filed.
You will be responsible for all of the costs associated with obtaining your H-1B visa for teachers at a U.S. consulate or embassy if you are currently outside the U.S. These include:
- DS-160 fee of $190 for the H-1B holder and for each H4 spouse or dependent that will be accompanying you to the U.S.
- Travel costs
- Biometric services fees (if applicable). This is usually a one-time charge of $85.
Just like for any other H-1B visa option, the USCIS typically extends a premium processing service to teachers who wish to work on H-1B status. This service will shorten the usual processing time from up to six or seven months to just 15 calendar days for a fee of $1,440. This feature does not guarantee you a position in the H-1B lottery nor does it change the earliest start date for your employment (October 1st)
However, there have been times when the USCIS has suspended the premium processing service for H-1B visas. This was done in 2015 and has happened again in 2017. This current suspension applies to all H-1B visa petitions including transfers, extensions, and petitions filed under the master’s degree exemption.
Recap–H-1B for Teachers Exemption Scenarios
Let’s recap what we’ve explored thus far regarding H-1B for teachers. There are two main instances in which an H-1B petition may be subject to the cap. The first is that the petitioner has already been subject to the cap in the previous six years.
In that case, the USCIS may process the amendment, change of employer or amendment without it counting towards the cap a second time. The second scenario is an individual who was granted H-1B status in the last six years but is currently living outside the United States. They have the option to reclaim the remaining time they have.
If you are not cap-exempt, then you initially have a three-year period of stay once your petition is approved with the option to extend it for an additional three years for a total of six years. It’s crucial to get started filing the paperwork right away if you’re a new petitioner because the USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions in April. Also, don’t delay the process if you are seeking a less involved request because delays may arise.
How VisaNation Law Group’s H-1B Attorneys Can Help
VisaNation Law Group’s H-1B attorneys have extensive experience filing H-1B petition for new clients and explaining the complete details of H-1B for teachers.
They can help you determine whether or not you qualify for the cap exemptions and other benefits as well. Since cases do vary so significantly, it’s advised to contact VisaNation Law Group today with your specific circumstances to get started.
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