While Congress continues to consider increasing the number of H-1B visas available for professional workers, the previous cap is still in place for the upcoming fiscal year. It is expected that the number of petitions filed during the first week of April will once again exceed the cap. There are 65,000 available (with an additional 20,000 available for those holding master’s degrees from U.S. universities). If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives more petitions than allowed under the cap, it conducts a lottery to select the petitions for processing. In 2014 more than 172,000 petitions were filed the first week of April and a lottery was conducted.
Employers seeking H-1B status for current or potential employees should plan to file their petitions on April 1. Pre-filing steps must be completed in advance and planning should begin now.
Why might an employer need to file an H-1B petition?
- The employer is currently recruiting or wishes to recruit a foreign national into a professional position.
- The employer is currently employing a foreign national who is working on an Employment Authorization Card pursuant to Optional Practical Training following graduation from a university or college.
- The employer is currently employing an individual who is approaching his or her fifth year in L-1B status and wishes to sponsor the individual for permanent residency.