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Backlog of H-1B Visas Could Spell Trouble for Immigrant Students

H-1B

Delays in the processing of H-1B visas could force many recent graduates of U.S. universities to return to their home countries or to face the prospect of unemployment and potential deportation along with a ban on entering the U.S. for three years. Despite the fact that these immigrants have done nothing wrong, the potential effects on their finances and futures could be devastating.

What Is an H-1B Visa?

An H-1B visa is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to individuals who are employed by a company in the U.S. and who meet certain guidelines. The employer must apply for these visas on behalf of their employee. H-1B visas are only available to those with a bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited institution and those employed in specialty occupations. Under current immigration regulations, only 85,000 H-1B visas are issued each year. Of those, 20,000 are reserved for graduates from U.S. academic institutions.

Student Visas and H-1B Status

While still in school, immigrants can pursue their studies under F-1, J-1 or M-1 student visas. These are non-immigrant visas. When they expire, students must either seek another form of visa or must return to their home country. The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program is designed to allow students to remain in the U.S. after graduation to gain work experience for a period of one to three years. During that time, their employers can apply for H-1B visas to retain their employees indefinitely.

What the Backlog Means for H-1B Applicants

The Trump administration has instituted policies prohibiting students from working after October 1, 2018, without an H-1B visa. The delays in processing these visas, however, will mean that these students cannot work in the U.S. while awaiting the processing of their applications. Continuing to work and to earn money during the interim period between October 1 and the eventual processing of their visas will result in these individuals accruing unlawful presence, which can result in deportation and a ban on reentering the U.S. for up to 10 years.

The Need for Experienced Legal Assistance

Working with the best Miami immigration lawyer can be a good first step toward dealing with issues with H-1B visas and other problems related to your legal status in the U.S. Your Miami immigration lawyer can provide you with expert help in determining the right strategies for dealing with these issues quickly and effectively.

If you need a Miami immigration lawyer, Pozo Goldstein can provide you with the right legal representation for your needs. Call us today at 305-856-0400 to schedule a free consultation in our office. We look forward to the chance to serve you.