by Chris Musillo

The State of Massachusetts has hit upon an ingenious plan to widen the path for H-1B workers and employers, as reported by CNN/Money. By using the H-1B “concurrent” employer program and coupling it with the H-1B “cap exemption” for Universities, Massachusetts will help foreign entrepreneurs obtain H-1B visas to work in Massachusetts.

The plan appears to work like this: the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative will vet prospective H-1B entrepreneurs. When an innovative entrepreneur is identified, the Collaborative will find a Massachusetts University to sponsor the H-1B worker under the “cap exemption” rule. This rule says that an H-1B worker who is sponsored by a University is not subject to the H-1B lottery.

Because there is no set required number of hours that the H-1B worker must be employed at the University, the expectation is that the H-1B worker will only work 8-10 hours per week at the University.

Presumably, the H-1B start-up will then sponsor the H-1B worker for a “concurrent” H-1B visa. The H-1B employee will spend the rest of the work-week employed by the start-up.

Without the assistance of the University, the plan would not work because the start-up’s H-1B sponsorship would normally be subject to the H-1B lottery. The plan is an elegant and creative one to deal with an outdated H-1B cap.

There is no reason that Massachusetts has to limit this plan to entrepreneurs. It could also be used to help fill critically short healthcare occupations.

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