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H-1B visa program brings skilled immigrants

Many businesses and people interested in immigrating to work in Indiana are highly educated. The United States already hosts more college-educated immigrants than any other country in the world, far outstripping other economically advanced nations. According to 2015 numbers, 14.7 million immigrants with college degrees over the age of 25 were living in the United States, more than triple the number in Canada. Of course, the U.S. population is also much larger, which means that only 36 percent of U.S. immigrants have a college degree compared to 65 percent in Canada.

Even President Trump, known for his restrictive immigration policies, has stated that he wants to encourage highly skilled immigrants to come to the United States. Over three-fourths of the American public said that immigration for skilled employment is a benefit to the country, with strong support among both Democrats and Republicans. One of the most common ways in which highly skilled immigrants come to the United States for work is the H-1B visa program, created in 1990 as part of the Immigration Act. The program allows employers to sponsor foreign workers who have a bachelor's degree or greater and specialized knowledge. It has become particularly important for the tech industry and is often a pathway to employment for advanced international graduate students.

The visas are awarded to the employers rather than the individuals, with a cap of 65,000 set each year. There are another 20,000 visas reserved for graduate students at U.S. institutions. The visas are renewable and can provide a path to permanent residency.

Around 12 percent of all green cards each year are issued on the basis of employment, and H-1B holders form a significant percentage of that group. An immigration lawyer can help clients learn more about the program and how they can apply successfully.

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