We’ve had a lot of requests to explain in more detail the other types of visas that architects can use to gain access into the American Labor Market. In this case, the other visa which is very popular and one which we receive a lot of inquiries on, is the H1-B visa. The H1-B visa may seem appealing to many participants, but you must know that it is very difficult to obtain. This visa has very limited options as UCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) only issues 65,000 H1-B visas per year to all countries and disciplines across the board. Since 2013, it is normal than more than 100,000 applications are submitted the same day the application has been opened and that cap is reached within a day. Applicants must take part in what is known as the “the lottery” which is an aleatory computer-based criterion.
The other issue with the H1-B visa is that it can be issued in a very rigid and limited time frame. Applications open only on the 1st of April every year and if your Visa gets approved, you will only be able to start working on October 1st, meaning a 6 month wait till you can start working in the firm. That is why we always recommend to participants that they begin with the J1 Visa, as once they have received an offer from a firm, that Visa can be issued and you could begin working within 30 days that we receive the required documentation from the firm. That means that if there is any firm that is interested in you, they won’t have to wait for longer than a month so that you join their team and, it will give you at least a 1 year – if you are a trainee – to have to start worrying about another visa in the case the company wants you to stay for a longer period of time.
With the H1-B visa the company also must oblige to a high level of commitment with the participant. In this case, the company has to sponsor the international covering all related expenses (visa, lawyers, health insurance..), for a total of a 3 year commitment with the employee while having to pay a high salary to justify your hire instead of a local one. That is why many American companies fear the idea of hiring an international right of the bat without really knowing how they work, as it may turn out to be too expensive for them to hire you in the case that it doesn’t really work out. However, with the J1 Visa the company can have you working for a period of up to 18 months in their firm and in the case you, and the host company is interested in extending the offer, then both parties can consider the H1-B already based on an informed decision.