Spring flowers are being replaced with April showers, and the children are restless.  As summer nears, many public schools will need to replenish their workforce.  With a shortage of qualified teachers in many districts, school boards are turning to international educators.  Here is what you need to know to ensure that your 2017-2018 school year is a success:

Visas for Educators

International teachers often work in the United States on nonimmigrant visas.  The most popular nonimmigrant visas for educators are the H-1B and J-1 visa.

H-1B Requirements for a Teacher

The H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa for applicants with specialized knowledge in a specialty occupation.  The applicant must have a Bachelor’s Degree OR three years of experience in the occupational field may equal the equivalent of one year of college.  However, in most states, a teaching position will require the minimum of a bachelor’s degree.  Also, the applicant must provide proof of the proper academic licenses.  If such licenses are not obtainable without a U.S. social security number, then the applicant can provide written confirmation from the applicable licensing board that all of the requirements have been met and the license will be issued upon receipt of the applicant’s social security number.

Under the H-1B visa, the applicant can bring his or her family (spouse and children) to the United States (H-4 visa).  Certain H-4 dependent spouses may be eligible for work authorization by filing Form I-765.  For more information, refer to the USCIS website.

The major drawback to the H-1B visa is the Cap which restricts the availability of visas to 65,000 for each fiscal year, of this number 20,000 H-1B petitions are filed under the advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap.  In 2016, USCIS announced that it received nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period.  The filing period typically begins on April 1, or the first Monday after that if it falls on a Saturday and Sunday.  Since the demand is almost always greater than the availability, school districts must plan ahead.

There is an exemption from the cap for schools that are affiliated with a college or university.  If the applicant qualifies, then he or she will receive an H-1B visa for three years.   Upon expiration, the applicant can then renew the visa for an additional three-year period.

J-1 Requirements for a Teacher

The J-1 nonimmigrant category is often popular among educators since there is no set limit to the length of time that a teacher is allowed to remain in the United States.  There are four separate categories which allow for a visitor exchange:  professors and research scholars, teachers, short-term scholars, and specialists.

Spouses and minor children can accompany the J-1 visa holder, and the spouse is eligible for work authorization.

The major downside to this visa category is that some visa holders may be required to return to their home country for a two-year residency requirement at the conclusion of their stay in the United States.  The applicant may be eligible for a waiver of the residency requirement under certain conditions.

In order to qualify for the J-1 visa, the teacher must be sponsored by a teacher exchange program.  Additional information about eligible sponsors can be found on the website for the U.S. Department of State.

Additional Options

In addition to the H-1B and J-1 visa, another alternative is the TN visa for citizens of Mexico and Canada.  Or the teacher may seek permanent resident (a green card”) in the United States through an employment-based visa.

Pobjecky and Pobjecky, LLP is a full-service global immigration firm with the experience to help you if need immigration services, contact Pobjecky & Pobjecky, and we will schedule an appointment to discuss your case.

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