Recent Irish arrivals to the U.S. take note: the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today it has 19,500 H-1B Visas still available.

Although H-1B visas are not a fast track to a green card or U.S. citizenship –they come with a raft of stipulations including the need to produce a university degree and find a U.S. employer willing to sponsor you - they do nonetheless open a door to the legal right to work in the U.S. For many recent Irish arrivals, that’s a tantalizing prospect in itself.

The new visa’s announced today will become available from October 1. That means successful Irish applicants would have to exit the U.S. and return as early as September 21 assuming that they qualify and they have been approved for the H-1 visa.

“The H-1B visa is for professionals, for people who have degrees in particular fields,” says Reza Pourmohammadi, an attorney at the well-known Jim O’Malley and Associates law firm in New York told “If they are offered a job here in the States it will require at least a Bachelor’s Degree or the equivalent and the would-be applicant would have to have that particular background. The U.S. company can then petition for them under the H-1 category.”

The main issue for applicants is securing a job offer for a job that requires a degree. This can be anything within business, construction, general contracting, hospitality, even bars and restaurants – it depends on the position offered. If the individual has the educational background and the relevant work experience then they should consult with a U.S. lawyer. Based on the job that’s been offered to them the lawyer can advise them if it’s a good fit for the H-1.

“The H-1 visa is one of the most commonly used and the fact that there are still 19,500 of them available is a legacy of the ongoing recession,” says Pourmohammadi. “In previous years all H-1 B visas were taken up within days of their announcement on April 1.”

Irish applicants should note that the job they apply for does not have to be full time, it can be part time. That eases the burden on employers who may not be able to commit to a full time salary with a benefits package, but who can offer part time employment which is hourly as long as the job is regular – that is as long as they work a certain number of hours each week.

The path to a H-1B visa follows this route: get a job offer, then consult with a lawyer to determine if your educational and work experience background will make you a good fit for the visa.

Says Pourmohammadi: “Age is a factor. If they’re fresh out of high school they don’t have enough experience to apply under this category. If they’re completed college studies and have some work experience back home then they would certainly qualify.”

“I don’t recommend that people come with the notion of staying, but it doesn’t hurt to come and explore the job market,” adds Pourmohammadi. “So long as their intent at the time of entry is to come as a visitor – without documents that show their intention to look for a job – U.S. immigration shouldn’t have any problem with their application for a H-1B during the 90 day period they are here.”