On April 1, 2016, USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) will start accepting H1B work status petitions for the next fiscal year.  USCIS typically accepts these applications for five days (April 1 to 5).  If there are more H1B petitions than the allotted quota for the year, USCIS will conduct a “random selection”, aka “H1B lottery” for all the petitions received from April 1 to 5.  The winners will get receipt notices, and those who are not selected will have their application packets returned.  There are 20,000 of these visas available to individuals with US master’s degrees and 65,000 general visas available for the rest, including those who are not selected in the 20,000 master’s quota.  Last year, there were over 230,000 H1B petitions received in the first 5 days of April 2015.  Extension, amendment, or transfer H1B petitions do not need quotas because the applicant has already been counted.  Certain employers, such as universities, are also exempt from the H1B quotas. 

Employers who are considering hiring employees who need H1B visas should begin the process asap.  It takes about 2 weeks to prepare an H1B petition because of various regulatory requirements.  Many cases take longer because of other complicated facts as well.   

Employers should have the following when contacting their immigration counsel to start the H1B process: 

  • Job title
  • Detailed job description
  • Job location
  • Offered salary
  • If this is the first time the employer is filing an H1B petition, a copy of the IRS letter containing their FEIN number
  • Number of employees
  • Net and gross revenues (if available)
  • Company brochures, marketing materials, payroll records, etc., to prove that the company is “real”
  • Financial statement, tax return, or equivalent to demonstrate that the company is financially viable
  • The name and email address of the person who will be signing the immigration documents

Employees should have the following items ready: 

  • Copy of passport biographic page, current US visa (if in the US), I-94 admission record (available on line at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov)
  • Education documents (diploma, transcripts – unofficial okay)
  • If foreign degree, they will need to be evaluated and translated.  It can be arranged but it will take about a week, if it hasn’t already been done
  • Most up-to-date resume
  • Copy of all immigration status documents issued by US Immigration, such as I-20, I-94, work permit, travel document, DS-2019, etc.
  • If there is spouse and/or children under 21 years old who need dependent H4 status, their passport biographic pages, US visas, I-94 admission records, and relationship documents (marriage or birth certificate)
  • More documents will be required if the applicant has prior issues with US immigration or the police