The April 1, 2016, deadline for H-1B visa petitions is rapidly approaching. If last year is any indication, now is the time to process H-1B petitions because the H-1B cap likely will be reached by April 8, 2016. Therefore, employers should focus their attention in the next week toward evaluating their labor needs so they are prepared to compete for this limited supply of visas. 

U.S. businesses may use the H-1B visa program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, including, but not limited to, scientists, engineers or computer programmers.

Each year, 65,000 H-1B visas may be awarded, with 20,000 reserved for foreign nationals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.  H-1B visas are issued for an initial maximum period of three years.  Visa extensions may be obtained up to an additional three years, for a total maximum period of stay of six years.  The actual period of initial admission and any extension depends on the employer’s stated need. Although H-1B visas are temporary, H-1B visa holders may petition for lawful permanent resident status and work for employers long-term.