US immigration options for living and working across the border

British Columbia residents who are considering employment or studies in the United States might have many questions about the available visa options that offer paths into U.S. work and study facilities. Several changes have occurred in U.S. Immigration requirements in recent years, and preference is given to highly skilled and talented people. The H-1B visa program allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers with bachelor's or higher education in specialized fields as temporary employees. A certain number of these visas are made available each year, and they are allocated through a first-come, first-serve process.

For those Canadians who want to study in the United States, the F-1 visa is available. Students pursuing U.S college degrees can apply, and this includes doctoral, master's, bachelor's and associate degrees. Those who want to stay on and gain practical experience can apply for Optional Practical Training approvals. These differ from H-1B visas in that employer sponsorship is not necessary, but they are only valid for 12 months with extensions allowed for a maximum of 36 months for those with technology, science, math or engineering degrees.

In contrast, H-1B visas are valid for six years, and they can be extended if the person has a permanent residency application pending. Also, unlike the H1-B visas that are capped at a specific number per year, there is no cap on applicants for the OPT program. The fourth method for college-educated immigrants and other foreigners to live and work in the United States is through the green card system, although the admission system is complicated, and it involves quotas and admission categories.

Many people in British Columbia who want to work or study in the United States choose to utilize the services of a law firm that focuses on cases that involve U.S. immigration. An experienced lawyer who is registered on both sides of the border can answer questions and explain the different visas along with the requirements for qualification. Legal counsel can assist with the entire process and also ensure a smooth border crossing.

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